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Glenn Ryan plays down historic win, Dublin's relegation battle and can Kildare win Leinster?

5 talking points after Kildare’s Division 1 win over Dublin.

Kildare selector Anthony Rainbow and manager Glenn Ryan celebrate after the game.
Kildare selector Anthony Rainbow and manager Glenn Ryan celebrate after the game.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

1. A historic win for Kildare

YESTERDAY FELT LIKE a seismic occasion for Kildare. They performed well in their opening three games, but only had a point against Kerry to show for it.

Promoted teams often go close in their opening few games before reality sets in and they suffer a few heavy beatings on their way back to Division 2. 

To beat Dublin, so long their oppressors, for the first time in 22 years was a huge boost for Glenn Ryan and his players. It was a big win in the battle for survival, but this victory was about more than the two points. 

Kildare hadn’t beaten Dublin in the league or championship since the Leinster final replay in 2000, when Mick O’Dwyer was in charge, and last defeated their neighbours at Newbridge in 1995.

The outpouring of emotion at the final whistle was hardly a surprise given how long they’ve been under Dublin’s thumb. It was 14 years since Dublin last lost a league game to any Leinster opposition. A day of days for the home team.  

2. Dublin’s lack of goals 

An inability to find the net is becoming a big issue for Dublin. Brian Fenton, Dean Rock and Brian Howard all missed golden opportunities to hit the net against Kildare.

For the first time in a long time, the Sky Blues are struggling to raise green flags, which was long their hallmark. 

They’ve gone three league matches without a goal, having scored one in every single league game they played between 2019 and 2021. They hit the net in 19 league games in-a-row before this drought.

The return of Con O’Callaghan would greatly aid Dublin in this department, but it’s a failure to be clinical in front of goal that’s really costing them.

ryan-houlihan-with-ross-mcgarry-and-brian-howard Ryan Houlihan is tackled by Ross McGarry and Brian Howard. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

3. Glenn Ryan plays down win

It’s not in Glenn Ryan’s nature to get too far ahead of himself. In his post-game media briefing, he retained a stoic manner when assessing the victory. 

It was put to the Kildare boss that he must be over the moon with the result. “Well you would be with the result but not necessarily with the performance,” he responded.

“Some of the basics skills on occasions, how we lost our shape in terms of what it is we like to do and how we feel we can play. To a degree that’s understandable but we need to get used to continually performing no matter what the opposition is or what stage the game is at. Now they worked very hard to try do it and you can’t fault the intention.”

Asked if the win over Dublin was important for Kildare to bank when looking down the line at the Leinster championship, he responded: “I wouldn’t be looking forward to Leinster at all yet.

“Sure we have plenty of stuff to do between now and then. At the end of the day it’s two points, it doesn’t matter who you get two points off in a competitive again, it’s only ever worth two points. That’s what today was ultimately about, getting a couple of points on the board and it was good to get them.”

4. Dublin mired in relegation battle

Successive to Armagh, Kerry, Mayo and Kildare leave Dublin three points clear of safety at the foot of the Division 1 table. 

Ultimately they will be judged on how they fare in the championship, but their alarming start to the league means they’ll be battling relegation for the remaining three weeks of the league.

Dropping to Division 2 has become a very real possibility, something which was unimaginable when Dublin won five out of six league titles between 2013 and 2018.

They face Ulster opposition (Tyrone, Donegal and Monaghan) in their final three games, two of them away. If they lose in Omagh in two weeks’ time then relegation is staring Dessie Farrell’s team in the face. What was an unthinkable prospect at the outset of the season is now becoming more realistic by the week.  

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jimmy-hyland-celebrates-a-score Jimmy Hyland celebrates a score. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

5. Can Kildare win Leinster?

The Leinster championship has been a forgone conclusion for over a decade, yet there is undoubtedly belief in the Kildare camp they can become the first time outside the capital since Meath in 2010 to lift the Delaney Cup. 

The confidence that even a league victory over their great rivals will give Kildare should not be underestimated. Two generations of Kildare players have played their entire careers without experiencing the feeling of beating the Sky Blues. 

Kildare were 7/1 with one bookmakers to win Leinster prior to the weekend and that dropped to 5/1 after yesterday’s win.

This was a game with major ramifications for the provincial championship, instilling the Lilywhites with genuine optimism that they can overturn the Dubs when it counts in Croke Park later this summer. 

Of course, there’s a major difference between doing it in Newbridge in February and Croke Park against a fully stacked Dublin team in the championship. Yesterday’s result and the Kildare celebrations after the final whistle may well serve as motivation for Dublin if they do clash later in Leinster.

For now though, there’s a glimmer of hope.

Comedian Michael Fry is our special guest on this week’s episode of The Front Row, in partnership with Guinness. Joining host Seán Burke, Eimear Considine and Murray Kinsella, he chats about his family’s rugby background and his short-lived playing days, before using his musical ear to rank the anthems of each Guinness Six Nations team. Click here to subscribe or listen below:


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