Cian O’Neill sees the positives in Kildare defeat
Turnovers identified as biggest disappointment by manager
Kildare manager Cian O’Neill patrols the sideline at Croke Park yesterday. Photograph: Inpho/Oisín Keniry
Kildare manager Cian O’Neill knows he has a team on his hands. They’re not there yet – and with Dublin in the way, it’s perfectly possible they might never get there. But plenty of Leinster managers have sat here after a Dublin tonking and known they were at nothing. O’Neill’s team is certainly the best second side Leinster have had to offer for quite some time. That’s not nothing.
“The plan was just to come here and try and play the type of football we have been playing all year,” he said. “In terms of getting that balance between a strong defence and a strong counter-attacking game for periods of the game, we did both. But unfortunately in the periods in which we didn’t, we really got punished.
“In terms of the source of that we would be very disappointed with the amount of turnovers we had. There is no better team in the country than Dublin to really punish you on the counter-attack. We knew coming in that turnovers are their oxygen and unfortunately I think they scored 1-5 directly off turnovers today.
“That’s not just on the scoreboard – it’s a psychological hit as well because you had the ball and you were controlling the game. That was the biggest thing. Their execution was just ruthless it was the high standard you would expect of champions. Ours was well below par.”
They’ll have Monaghan or Armagh up next on Saturday week. Somebody told O’Neill after the game that the past five Leinster final losers have all gone out in the fourth round of the qualifiers. They told him wrong – it’s actually the last seven. They have a better shot at changing the record than anyone who have gone before.
“It’s just tough after a defeat but sometimes that can be the scars of a horrific defeat by Dublin, you know? I don’t think we will have that scar today. But we will definitely have a scar of disappointment and we will see how we can build ourselves up again.
“We didn’t come here to play a defensive game. And we were very certain of that once we won the semi-final. We all agreed, players, management and back-room alike that we were really going to go after this. So we invested a lot of time, effort and sacrifice into it.
“So there will be a lot of hurt in the dressing-room for sure. But you know they need some time and some space. They need to let some steam because God they deserve it and they have earned it. We will get back to work this week and really give it a good go, be it Armagh or Monaghan.”