Grimley hails Leinster’s strength in depth

PAUL GRIMLEY has defended the Leinster football championship against charges, based on Dublin’s dominance, that it has become largely uncompetitive.

Kildare’s assistant manager argues that a look at the facts would indicate that Leinster is more difficult to win than Ulster, despite the latter’s reputation as a minefield. The Armagh man points to the stranglehold his native county has on the northern province, having claimed seven of the previous 10 provincial championships.

The only other county to emerge successful in that period is Tyrone, who won three. Derry were the last winners outside of that duo, in 1998.

While Dublin are chasing a five-in-a-row in Leinster, four other counties have annexed a Leinster title in the past decade: Westmeath, Laois, Meath and Kildare.

“It mystifies me that a lot of articles are written about the demise of Leinster football by people like Liam Hayes,” said Grimley. “While I understand the effect of Dublin’s dominance, Armagh especially and Tyrone as well, have dominated Ulster even more so and yet that is supposed to be the hardest province to come out of.

“Leinster football is as competitive if not more so than Ulster. And certainly the Dublin-Meath rivalry is an equal of the Armagh-Tyrone one. That is a game everyone is looking forward and Dublin will be put to the pin of their collars to keep a hold on their title.

“You have got ourselves, Meath, Westmeath, Dublin, Laois and Wexford all in with a good chance of winning Leinster and I think to put the competitiveness of the province down is unwarranted. There are a lot of good teams there and no-one can predict who will be in the final.”

Meanwhile, Pearse Óg clubman Grimley has hailed the achievement of rookie boss Kieran McGeeney in making the Lilywhites a group that people are talking about again.

“Kieran is only 18 months into the job,” said Grimley.

“For a man that has come straight out of playing and with no previous experience in management whatsoever, at any level, he has done a remarkable job. And he doesn’t get the credit for all sorts of different reasons.

“What he has is complete integrity and honesty. There are no back doors with McGeeney. He doesn’t talk out of one side of his mouth.

“He will say what he has to say front up and both players and staff appreciate that, and respond to it.”

The brand of counter-attacking football deployed in Division 2 is at odds with the perception that Kildare are clones of Armagh, but Grimley concedes he and McGeeney took time to realise they couldn’t impose that physical, defensive style on their new charges.

“You have to realise that whatever model works in your previous job, doesn’t necessarily work in the next job. We had to wake up and smell the coffee.

“Kildare had always been a flair team so we worked on those strengths. We had a long hard look at ourselves and realised that for things to change, we had to change our mindset, and the players adapted.”

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