Doyle insists McGeeney crucial to Kildare breakthrough as Tyrone call a halt to Lilywhites’ campaign
“I don’t think it is a coincidence we are seeing success at underage. It’s Kieran’s involvement. He drives the whole thing. Every young lad in the place now wants to play with Kildare.”
Tyrone’s Aidan McCrory tackles Kildare’s Paddy Brophy at Newbridge. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Tyrone 1-11 Monaghan 0-12
When the anger and devastation subside, Kildare people might listen to their longest -serving son.
Despite the ineptitude of this performance, Johnny Doyle made an impassioned plea for Kieran McGeeney to be allowed return as manager for a seventh season.
That may be a key factor in the veteran forward, 37 next January but worryingly still the Lilywhites’ main scoring outlet, playing on for a 15th season.
“I think it is imperative that the management, led by Kieran, stays on,” said Doyle. “I can’t over-talk how much Kieran means to this county. He puts his life into it. I don’t think it is a coincidence we are seeing success at underage. The minors are going strong still. It’s Kieran’s involvement. He drives the whole thing. Every young lad in the place now wants to play with Kildare.
“The one thing about Kieran is he is such a selfless person. He will do what he thinks is best for Kildare not what is best for Kieran McGeeney.”
And yourself Johnny?
“Who knows? I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been involved for a long number of years and enjoyed every minute of it. Today is not the day to be making that decision. We’ll see what next year brings but there is a very talented bunch of players coming on.
“Hopefully if they keep knocking at the door it will eventually open.”
Maybe they should try using a key because the hinges remain intact.
The Newbridge crowd were fuming with the nine first-half wides and some awful distribution. It’s why Dublin did them by 16 points in the Leinster semi-final. It’s why they have not taken the next step.
In the first half Kildare foot or hand-passes constantly missed their intended target. It was a shockingly poor exhibition of the basic skills.
“It did look nervy,” said McGeeney. “Fist passes going astray gave them 1-3 at the start there. Fellas don’t do it on purpose. It just happens. Ach, you know, it can just get to you but the more big matches you get the more you get rid of it.”
On the rare occasion that a Tyrone build-up went to ground, Peter Harte nimbly turned before chipping to a supporting team-mate.
Mickey Harte sides still counter-punch better than anyone. On nine minutes Kildare teenager Niall Kelly blazed over a goal chance. Instantly, Ryan McKenna was galloping out of defence, finding Mark Donnelly who supplied Stephen O’Neill who offloaded to the flying McKenna who fed the excellent Matthew Donnelly.
The finish was perfect.
“We made a lot of changes this year,” said McGeeney. “Young fellas coming in. That had to happen for the team.”
Same can be said of Tyrone. But McGeeney was right to note provincial success at under-16, minor, under-21 and junior. There has been progress on his watch.
“It’s not easy. It took playing 10 years for Armagh before we won anything. Things can change in a heartbeat and you go on and win a few things. It is about never giving up.
“That’s what sport is about. You have to go out and you have to take it. It is never put in your lap, you have to bend for the ball. You are not going to get decisions, you have to ignore that, you have to just keep fighting.
“Victory is normally an anti-climax for most athletes. Because they prepare for it. That’s why defeat is down there somewhere [looks at his feet]. You find it hard to deal with because you don’t prepare for it. . . . . . . .”
At least Kildare made a fight of it after half-time, stringing off five points, to level matters, before Mark Donnelly was allowed solo through the Kildare defence. Eventually Emmet Bolton took him out. Penalty.
Up stepped O’Neill to kill off the revival but Shane Connolly made a fine save. The locals in the 7,448 crowd had an air of vindication. They felt O’Neill should have walked on 33 minutes for striking Peter Kelly.
Really though, Kelly took a fall after O’Neill retaliated to the umpteenth dunt from his marker. The umpire provided some context for referee Joe McQuillan and a yellow was deemed to be enough.
Kelly walked on 63 minutes for his second booking which looked a harsh call.
With Aidan Cassidy supplementing the excellence of the Donnellys and Seán Cavanagh, Tyrone drained all life from the contest. Peter Harte’s late point steered Kildare’s coffin ship out of to sea.
There was a late opportunity to force extra-time but Seánie Johnson accidentally put a sideline over the black spot.
The most disturbing aspect of the Kildare supporters, including an elderly woman, jostling McQuillan as he left the field was the referee saw the assault coming before his Garda escort cottoned on. He should never have been touched.