By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Niall Carew has hit out at Joe Brolly for continuing what he says is a “vendetta” against Kieran McGeeney and dismissed the pundit’s contention that Kildare’s players were too afraid to make mistakes under McGeeney’s stewardship.
Brolly was critical of McGeeney in a “hideous column” following the relegation of his Armagh side to Division 3, arguing that his intensity and demand for the highest standards held his players back.
Carew worked as a selector and coach with McGeeney for five seasons from 2008-2012 before moving on to become Waterford manager.
Now in charge at Sligo, who he brought to a Connacht final last year thanks to a shock win over Roscommon, Carew will come face-to-face with his former mentor next year.
While not qualified to talk about what has happened with Armagh, he insists Brolly has it wrong with regard to Kildare.
“Joe embarked on another verbal assault on Kieran McGeeney and he has copied and pasted this article on more than one occasion,” says Carew in the Sligo Champion.
“So if you want, get onto Google and you will discover one man’s personal vendetta against another.
“I think I'm way more qualified than Joe Brolly or Pat Spillane or any of the other pundits and journalists that like to get personal and sometimes dirty, to really tell people who the real Kieran McGeeney is.
“When you read and listen to people that have never played or worked with him, it tends to be completely at odds with what those who have say. The detractors seem to be judging the book by its cover.
“Geezer ticks all the boxes, believe me. First and foremost he is the one we all want to go to war with. He is the most genuine man I have ever met and is the one I turn to on and off the field. I trust him with my life.
“When he arrived in Kildare in 2008, they were in a bad place. They couldn't get by the first round of the Leinster Championship and had the worst qualifier record going. He turned this around and Kildare qualified for five All-Ireland quarter-finals plus an All-Ireland semi-final. In that time, we got no luck and huge decisions went against us at the time which probably cost us an All-Ireland final appearance at the least.”
Rather than Kildare being too paralysed to perform on the big day, Carew says that referee, Pat McEnaney has admitted getting a vital square ball decision wrong when Benny Coulter’s goal was allowed in the 2010 All-Ireland semi-final, while TV replays clearly showed the decision to disallow Tomás O’Connor’s goal in the following year’s quarter-final against Donegal was incorrect.
Carew said: “Brolly likes to twist things. So for him, the players were too afraid to make a mistake. We could have been more clinical but officials’ mistakes were the defining moments.
“Joe Brolly has always picked on Geezer (off the field and behind his laptop) and while Geezer doesn’t care, I can’t let it go any longer. When you strip it all away, he has never had a clue what goes on. But when you want to be sensational, you don’t need to worry about the truth or the facts. Or ask the people who worked with him.
“Johnny Doyle played under Geezer for six years. He wasted no time in making his thoughts on Brolly’s attack public on his Facebook page. What he says about the man carries much more relevance than what a self-serving self-promoter thinks.
“‘The thing with Kieran was that he was an excellent coach and mentor. He changed the way I thought about my game. He pushed me to a level of training and preparation that I never knew existed. It was a great time to be involved in football in Kildare. People say that Kieran failed with Kildare but I think we failed Kieran.
“When I think of the bullshit that Brolly wrote last week it turns my stomach. When it comes to Johnny Doyle or Joe Brolly, I know who I’d believe.”