Hyland believes focus is on Kildare


CAVAN MANAGER Terry Hyland says that the stand-out fixture in yesterday’s All-Ireland qualifier draw, which pits his team against Kildare and raises the possibility of a reunion with former player Seán Johnston, is more of a distraction for the opposition.

Hyland, whose team completed a storming final-quarter comeback win over Fermanagh in Enniskillen on Sunday, was reacting to being paired with Kieran McGeeney’s Kildare, who unexpectedly lost their Leinster semi-final to Meath at the weekend.

Johnston was cleared to play for his new county when making a brief appearance for Coill Dubh, the hurling club attached to his football club St Kevin’s, on Saturday in order to satisfy the requirement that a player wanting to switch county first must play a championship fixture for his new club.

Inevitably, the draw paired Cavan, who Johnston left after being dropped from the panel by former manager Val Andrews, with Kildare in Kingspan Breffni Park. It was considered almost fated that the teams would come out of the hat together, just as last year Meath and Louth got to re-run their ultra-controversial 2010 Leinster final.

Asked would this be a distraction for his team Hyland, who has taken the county to two Ulster under-21 titles, disagreed.

“I suppose you’re talking about Seánie Johnston, but that’s no real distraction to us. He’s a Kildare player now and it’s a bigger distraction for them. I feel sorry for Seánie finding himself at the centre of all the media attention.”

Does he regret the player’s decision not to make himself available for his own county? “Everyone has regrets and everyone would like to have their best players available.”

On the fixture itself Hyland is happy enough despite the opposition’s formidable record in the qualifiers during McGeeney’s time in charge. Since 2008, Kildare haven’t lost a single match before the All-Ireland stages, having reached quarter-finals in 2008, ’09 and last year and in 2010 the semi-finals.

“I don’t mind. You have to play whoever you’re drawn against. Kildare are a good strong team but we were always going to be drawn against a strong team seeing as a lot of those teams (beaten provincial semi-finalists) are strong.”

The other fixtures attracting attention after yesterday’s draw include former All-Ireland winners Tyrone having to make the journey to Hyde Park to face a buoyant Roscommon, who sprang a surprise on Sunday by defeating Armagh, who were beaten by Tyrone in the Ulster first round.

The counties met last year in Croke Park, where despite an ultimately comfortable win for Mickey Harte’s team, Roscommon were in contention until the final quarter.

Jack O’Connor’s Kerry will have to travel to Mullingar for the first summer meeting between the counties. Of all the defeated provincial semi-finalists, only Leitrim were presented with a home draw and they will be hopeful that Wicklow will become their first victims in the 12-year history of the qualifier series.

Meanwhile, Croke Park has become one of the first sports stadiums in the world to achieve recognition in the recently released ISO 20121 Event Sustainability certificate, a standard devised for this month’s Olympics in London.

Among the specific environmental improvements were: reducing electricity consumption by over 30 per cent since 2008; saving 370,000 litres of water per day and increasing recycling from 21 per cent in 2008 to 62 per cent in 2012.

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