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Dublin: -1°C Saturday 17 April 2021

'Disappointing' season ends for Kildare football after mixed results and player losses

Cian O’Neill reflected on a difficult year for the Lilywhites.

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte with Kildare manager Cian O'Neill.
Tyrone boss Mickey Harte with Kildare manager Cian O'Neill.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

TWELVE MONTHS ON there was to be no post-match eruption of joy for Kildare football.

Round 3 was the stage for a rousing and magical evening for the county in 2018 as they dumped Mayo out. Last night it was Kildare making an exit at that juncture, ten points in arrears of Tyrone at the final whistle.

The outcome provided confirmation of their season ending in late June. 2019 was never going to be straightforward, Kildare stripped of figures that were central to their qualification for last summer’s Super 8s.

Results have been a mixed bag with three wins, a draw and three losses delivered in the league before three wins, a draw and two defeats churned out in the championship.

“Ah, disappointing,” was the end of year summation of Kildare boss Cian O’Neill.

“It’s funny, we didn’t feel we played that well at all in the league and yet we were one match away from being promoted. The championship was a funny one too in that we got beaten by the two teams in last year’s All-Ireland final.

“We didn’t lose to any other team and that being said we did struggle early on, in overcoming Wicklow and Longford. We just didn’t perform at the level we did at the latter end of last year and that is the big disappointment.

“But then you are looking at the stand and you see lads like Paul Cribbin, Paddy Brophy, Niall Kelly tweaked his hamstring in the warm-up there, Kevin Flynn, Fionn Dowling, Tony Archibold, Daniel (Flynn) not with us.

“You almost would have had a competing attacking line not available today. That didn’t make it easy on us but I would still be disappointed with how we performed with the group that we had.”

Sluggish periods of play at the outset of either half hurt Kildare greatly. They faced a 1-5 to 0-2 deficit after the opening quarter while Tyrone hit four of the first five points in the second half. Those scoring sprees were telling.

“If you are going to beat a team of Tyrone’s calibre, like Dublin, you need a few things to happen,” said O’Neill.

“You need everything to go in your favour and you need to be taking your chances and really put them under pressure. We gave them a start in both halves and unfortunately we were always chasing the match.

“You don’t want to be chasing a team of Tyrone’s quality, particularly with 14 men.”

The loss wrapped up O’Neill’s fourth campaign at the helm of the Kildare footballers. He was still digesting this disappointing defeat rather than considering his future.

“My mind was set on a recovery session tomorrow morning and on planning for next week. That’s how you need to plan. The guys will be devastated with the defeat but they died with their boots on and they never stopped trying to play.

“I just want to spend a bit of time with them and the management and the backroom team. They have all been phenomenal this year and the last three years. That’s really where my head is at.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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