Kildare captain faces surgery having broken his thumb the week before Leinster final

Cian O’Neill says it’s ‘most likely’ Eoin Doyle will miss Kildare’s next game.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

KILDARE SKIPPER EOIN Doyle will undergo surgery this morning on a broken thumb he suffered in the build-up to yesterday’s Leinster SFC final against Dublin.

Doyle didn’t enjoy the best of outings as Ciaran Kilkenny and Con O’Callaghan ran Kildare’s half-back line ragged, scoring 0-8 from play between them.

In addition, Dublin’s two goals inside the opening 11 minutes arrived as a result of attacks that scythed through the heart of the Lilywhites rearguard.

O’Neill confirmed Doyle will go under the knife and is unlikely to feature in their Round 4B qualifier on the weekend of 29 July.

“He’ll be in for surgery (Monday) morning. It’s a measure of the man. There was no way he wasn’t going to be playing today. Eoin broke his thumb last week and he just felt he could get through. We felt he could get through along with him and he played as much as he could and put in a real stellar performance, considering.

“There were obviously some parts of his game that he couldn’t execute but I think that was far superseded by the brilliant things he did in marshalling that defence for large periods. It’s most likely he won’t be available in two weeks time but we’ll wait and see.”

Niall Scully with Kevin Feely Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Kildare will also be without influential midfielder Kevin Feely, who picked up his third black-card of the season for a foul on Jack McCaffrey late on.

“He put in another big shift today,” O’Neill gushed about the former professional soccer player. “He’s been a revelation for us this year. Last year was his first year back and he picked up a couple of knocks and never got the free run he’s had this year.

“You could see the difference on the pitch and not just from kick-outs. He’s an all-rounder; he can defend, he can shoot, he can score, he can lead. I can only presume he was very unfortunate with the black card as he’s still not sure what it was for but obviously when he goes off the pitch you’re losing a big, big player. It wouldn’t have altered the result but it was just unfortunate.”

On an interesting note, O’Neill’s men are hoping to be the first beaten Leinster finalists in eight years to make it to the All-Ireland quarter-final.

The Lilywhites were the last county to do so under Kieran McGeeney in 2009. Since then, Louth, Wexford, Meath (three times) and Westmeath (twice) have failed to win the next championship game after losing the provincial decider.

Cian O'Neill Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Kildare will face either Monaghan or Armagh in Round 4B of the qualifiers and O’Neill admits he “it will be tough” to turn things around by then.

“We invested a lot of time, effort and sarcifice into it, so there will be a lot of hurt in the dressing room for sure. They need some time, some space they need to let some steam because God they deserve it and they have earned.

“We will get back to work this week and really give it a good go be in Armagh or Monaghan. So it will be a mighty test. Somebody said to me that the last (seven) Leinster losers have gone out in the next round and that’s just tough after a defeat.

“Sometimes it can be the scars of a horrific defeat by Dublin. I don’t think we will have that scar today but we will definitely that that scar of disappointment. We will see how we can build ourselves up again.”

The nature of Kildare’s strong finish – they goaled late on through the impressive Paddy Brophy – will mean this defeat shouldn’t sap confidence too much.

The Lilywhites were nine points behind on 20 minutes and lost by the same margin – a sure sign of their fine physical conditioning. They’ll be a serious match for whoever they face at HQ in two weeks.

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Kevin O'Brien

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