Bolton from the back to help at the front pays dividends for Lilywhites
The Kildare defender tells of his willingness to get forward and get on the scoresheet, writes MALACHY CLERKIN
EMMET BOLTON laughs when you tell him that the verdict on The Sunday Game was that he should have been hauled to the ground at some point in his 70-yard foray up the pitch in injury-time against Limerick last Saturday night.
“They’re unreal, aren’t they?” he says. “One minute the game’s too cynical, next minute it’s, ‘They should have fouled him.’”
Don’t be fooled though. In his heart of hearts, he doesn’t disagree at all. Winning is winning is winning. There’s a time for wringing your hands at the state of the game and it most definitely is not in the 71st minute of an All-Ireland qualifier with just a point between the teams.
“Yeah” he admits, “to be honest with you, I know if we were in that situation we probably would have pulled a lad down somewhere along the way.”
Limerick did not, however, and the rest is as they say. Bolton took the final pass on the Limerick 21, broke a tackle and kicked the equaliser off his left foot to claw the game into extra-time. Had it gone wide, Kildare’s season would have ended with the kick-out. As it was, they wiped Limerick out in extra-time and kept their spotless record in the qualifiers under Kieran McGeeney intact.
Bolton might not have been the first choice to take a shot of such importance but he wasn’t a mile down the list either. It’s a rare game these days that he doesn’t make it onto the scoresheet, partly down to the fast-break game Kieran McGeeney has Kildare playing and partly down to Bolton’s own self-belief. Even as their hopes began to flatline last weekend, he wasn’t accepting death as a given.
“The type of game we play, we’re always going to make chances. We kicked 16 wides on the weekend, you have to remember that. We’re long enough playing in the qualifiers now to know that you’re always going to get a chance in a close game. It’s championship – teams aren’t beaten until the final whistle and you’re conscious of that whether you’re up by a point or down by a point.
“We knew we’d get a chance because we were playing well in the last 10 minutes and we were starting to break them down. Up until the closing stages, we were finding it very hard to get through them. Granted, we probably didn’t take enough shots and we maybe held on to the ball too long at times. But we could feel that it was getting that little bit easier to get into a shooting position as the game came to an end.
“So it was just going to be a matter of whoever took the shot making sure it went over. We knew we were going to level it at some stage, although we probably did leave it a wee bit late.”