Mick O’Dowd happy Meath ‘executed pretty well most of the game’
Reaction: Kildare manager Jason Ryan ‘really shocked with the level of physicality they encountered, the strength of Meath’s tackling’
Kildare manager Jason Ryan and Meath manager Mick O’Dowd shake hands after the Leinster football senior championship semi-final in Croke Park yesterday. Photograph: Inpho/Ryan Byrne
Mick O’Dowd enters the theatre attached to Croke’s Park’s museum and diffidently enquires if that is where he should be as if he might have wandered in to some Masonic lodge rather than a press conference.
It’s about the only uncertainty exhibited all day, as O’Dowd’s Meath team have pulled off something of a coup, surviving a blight of injuries to dump a more fancied Kildare into the qualifiers.
“It was a good performance. We went into the game very confident, very focused,” he says.
“We executed pretty well most of the game. There was a period in the second half when Kildare got on top and we weren’t doing as much as we might have but overall it was a pleasing performance from us.
“One concern we’d have is how we allowed them back into the game. We’ll look at the impact their substitutions made. The opening quarter of the second half was probably the time when we won the game.”
Injury concernKevin Reilly
“We’re down a lot of long- term injuries; when they come back it will strengthen the panel. Missed chances?
“We’ll work on that. We’d like our finishing to be better. The farther you go, the better your performances need to be.”
Jason Ryan is in his first year as Kildare manager but was involved with Kieran McGeeney last season.
He ponders a question about how things went wrong, as the county drifts a further year away from its last Leinster final appearance in 2009.
“Kevin Reilly’s tackling on Paddy Brophy – made a big impact on our forward line; the tight marking of Donncha Tobin on McNally.
“Meath got their match-ups spot on. Our forward line wasn’t fluid in the first half. They found it really hard to get space.”
Pressed on the physicality of Meath, he describes Paddy Brophy’s injury as “a knockout” by Kevin Reilly.
“Paddy went for a low ball, Kevin came through the back of him with his knees and Paddy’s back went into spasm.”
Was he upset action wasn’t taken?
“I’ll look back on it. Gaelic football is a physical sport, you maximise the contacts you can make.