Kildare’s Kevin Feely and Mick O’Grady with John Heslin of Westmeath. Brian Reilly-Troy/INPHO
Major blow

Kildare star likely to miss Leinster final against Dublin after knee injury

Kevin Feely had to leave the field during the first half of Kildare’s Leinster SFC semi-final win over Westmeath.

JACK O’CONNOR HAS admitted Kevin Feely is unlikely to play any part in Kildare’s first Leinster final in four years.

The Lilywhites overcame a stern Westmeath test in yesterday’s semi-final at Croke Park, setting up a provincial decider against Dublin.

Kildare did count the cost of victory, however. Eoin Doyle hobbled off holding his hamstring shortly before the second water break and Kevin Feely went down with a knee injury after 31 minutes.

The former professional soccer player looked in serious pain following a clash of knees with John Heslin. It’s expected he’ll undergo a scan this week to assess the damage.

Asked if it looked like an ACL injury, O’Connor responded: “I’m not a doctor or physio but it certainly doesn’t look good.

“We wouldn’t be expecting him to be right in two weeks. It was a collision, knee on knee. He was having a fantastic game, both aerially and positionally, so that was a big setback.

“We’ll have Luke Flynn available after a two-game suspension so that might help to ease the blow a small bit.”

He also said Doyle will be “under pressure” to recover in time for the Dublin clash.

Talented young forward Darragh Kirwan was a late withdrawal from the team and squad at the weekend. O’Connor said he “absolutely” stands a chance of featuring in two weeks’ time.

“It wasn’t injury, it was a Covid issue,” explained the Kerryman. “He didn’t have Covid but he was a close contact so he had to be ruled out.”

After being named on the bench, Daniel Flynn started the game as a late change. He looked fit and sharp, scoring 1-1 while he laid on a goal for Jimmy Hyland with a glorious pass.

“That man has unlimited potential and I was delighted with him today,” said O’Connor.

“In fact, I thought we got more out of him that I was expecting because he has very little football played. Since I came up two years ago he hasn’t played two games in a row because he’s been plagued with injuries but he’s trained very well the last month.

“He’s in a good place physically and mentally and he enjoyed himself out there.

“He’s an elite athlete with elite speed and there’s no better pitch than Croke Park to show that.”

It’s been a solid season for Kildare so far. In O’Connor’s second campaign, they’ve already sealed a return to Division 1 and made the provincial final.

In a press conference that took place prior to Dublin’s semi-final against Meath where Dessie Farrell’s side underperformed, O’Connor was asked if Kildare have already achieved their targets for the year.

“We won’t show up at all for the final, we’re happy enough, we’ll go on the beer,” he joked.

“I’ll tell you now, I’ve never gone into a final without expectations of putting our best foot forward and that’s what we’ll be doing.

“It’s probably a bit of shot to nothing but you never go out to lose a game, we’ll certainly prepare very well.

“This is a big monkey off our back and to get to Division 1 and to get to a Leinster final but we certainly won’t be there to make up the numbers, we’ll give it a good go in the next two weeks and see can we improve again and that’s all you can do.

“You can’t control the opposition and we just have to control ourselves and keep improving. I think we needed to improve from the Offaly game and we did that because we were up against better opposition and obviously we have to improve again by a similar if not a greater amount for the final.”

The sight of Meath, a side Kildare accounted for in a knock-out game last month, running Dublin so close must have given O’Connor further encouragement.

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