Plucky Kildare continue on winning way
Kildare 2-14 Donegal 1-13:With an hour gone in Saturday night’s Allianz Football League curtain raiser, Kildare were up against it, as a Michael Murphy-inspired Donegal came flying at them.
Despite a significant fitness advantage against a team not long back from holiday and coming off four months celebrating a rare All-Ireland victory as well as missing in part or altogether the inputs of five All Stars and the incumbent Footballer of the Year, Kieran McGeeney’s side had – pretty literally – watched as their opponents strung together six unanswered points to cut a once yawning deficit to one.
Nonetheless it ended well for Kildare, as Donegal’s storm blew out and the lead was once again nudged out after 16 scoreless minutes. For McGeeney the match had delivered both a valuable outcome and areas in which to improve.
“Against Cork we felt that they were running through us for fun,” he said of the team’s previous visit to Croke Park for last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final mauling, “but there was 10 minutes out there when Donegal were doing the same.
“The game is in the context it’s in. Donegal are just back but they have that wee bit of panache that All-Ireland champions have and they’re a strong, running team. We were definitely up against it at times but we got on top and got the scores. It’s just good to get two points. Two points in this division is like gold dust. A good start for us.”
It’s been a good few weeks for Kildare. Not alone have they picked up the O’Byrne Cup with a dramatic win over Dublin and emerged from their first league match with victory over the All-Ireland champions but they have uncovered a handful of genuinely promising looking young players.
Man of the match
Niall Kelly, just a year after playing minor and winning a Hogan Cup medal, got the Setanta television man of the match award after a terrific evening of buzzing around, making himself available for the ball and kicking three points from play as well as using the ball constructively.
It was surprising that he and Daniel Flynn hadn’t been named on the team after good pre-season form but both started and another teenager Paddy Brophy, who came on and scored might also have been in contention had he not been involved in a Freshers match during the week.
“In fairness with those young fellas coming through,” said McGeeney, “the likes of Brian Murphy, Alan Barry with the under-21s and Noel Mooney have to take a lot of credit.”
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness won’t have helped sleep patterns elsewhere in the country by asserting afterwards that his team were operating at only 60 or 65 per cent of their championship fitness levels.