McGeeney pleased as Kildare get going

They were very tentative early on, but once Kildare got going they had way too many gears for a committed but outgunned Offaly.

Kieran McGeeney was pleased with certain aspects of his team’s play but the Lilies have played a lot better than this and lost.

Their shooting in the first half was very poor, as they hit seven wides and dropped three more shots short into Alan Mulhall’s hands.

Despite that though, they registered 19 points, had eight different scorers from play and should probably have had four goals. Knowing that they can be much better will ensure McGeeney sleeps well ahead of a reunion with Meath.

Offaly began very well but the demands told on them as they tired in the second half.

“Beaten by the better team by far,” said Offaly manager, Tom Coffey.

“We knew coming into it that Kildare had brought it to a different level, and I suppose themselves and Dublin have broken away from the pack in Leinster anyway, and are in the top three or four to win (the All-Ireland).

“That is the reality. The lads trained hard the last eight weeks, which would have been six weeks hard going, plenty of matches, and we put our best on the field, but there was still 13 points separating us at the end.”

McGeeney went out of his way to suggest his side wasn’t All-Ireland material yet.

By and large though, he was happy with their efforts, particularly as they seemed a little tentative having waited so long to get their championship campaign under way.

“You feel anxious at the start of it yourself” he admitted. “We decided this year not to play challenge games. We played a lot of in-house games instead and we were probably a wee bit rusty going out there at the start.

“I know Tom would have been trying to put a structure in place (with Offaly), he probably played eight or nine games in the last three or four weeks. They put up a lot of good scores, he chose his games well to get confidence in the team and they played as such at the start. Thankfully the fellas settled down and were able to man-mark and get into the game better.”

Offaly started well and though Pádraig O’Neill gave Kildare an early lead, Anton Sullivan, Niall Smith and Ken Casey responded by the tenth minute.

They weren’t to score again until the fourth minute of the second half though and Niall McNamee was introduced in a bid to shake things up.

But Kildare got completely on top in the middle third, where Rob Kelly and Eoin Doyle got on plenty of ball, and the Rhode sharpshooter was starved of possession.

With Tomás O’Connor a constant threat at the other end – his stratospheric ninth-minute leap, catch and lay-off deserved better than Eoghan O’Flaherty’s terrible wide – and he provided at least three assists as Kildare edged clear.

Mikey Conway’s place-kicking has improved beyond measure this year and he continued that trend with a 100% record that included three first-half frees. With the tireless Johnny Doyle adding two fine scores form play, Kildare led 0-8 to 0-3 at half time.

Emmet Bolton had thundered a shot off the crossbar by that stage and Mulhall made two splendid saves from Conway and O’Neill in the second half. Eoghan O’Flaherty was somehow denied what seemed a cast-iron penalty by referee Pádraig O’Sullivan.

But Ollie Lyons found time to use his blinding pace to shoot three points, Doyle doubled his tally and substitutes Alan Smith and Pádraig Fogarty – his league final heroics not enough to earn him a start – propelled them to a comfortable victory.

“We’ve a lot of areas to work on but to score 19 points, create a lot of goal chances – we didn’t take them –definitely it was a decent day out” was how a satisfied McGeeney described it.

All in all, a pretty accurate summation.

Scorers for Kildare: M Conway 0-5(4fs, 1 45); J Doyle 0-4; O Lyons 0-3; E O’Flaherty 0-2; P O’Neill, A Smith, R Kelly, P Fogarty, J Kavanagh 0-1 each Scorers for Offaly: K Casey 0-3(1f); A McNamee, N Smith, A Sullivan 0-1 each Subs for Kildare: A Smith for E Doyle (42); D Flynn for Kelly inj (55); P Fogarty for Kavanagh (57); D Earley for J Doyle (59); T O’Neill for M O’Flaherty (61).

Subs for Offaly: N McNamee for Kelly (35); P Cunningham for Guilfoyle (46); D Hanlon for Moloney (57); N Dunne for Casey (64); L Hiney for Rigney (69).

Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry).

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