When the Kildare manager stared into the innards of this All-Ireland U21 semi-final he could only deliver the same prognosis as everyone else. This was football’s equivalent of death by a thousand cuts. This was defeat by 19 wides as well as the four shots that dropped short, the one that came back off a post and another handful that were blocked by Galway defenders.
For the neutral, it was a dispiriting litany of inefficiency. For McGeeney and anyone else with ties to Kildare it was the latest in a lengthening line of disappointments caused by the county’s ongoing problems in front of goal.
“Very [disappointed],” he sighed, “but I suppose we can’t blame anyone but ourselves. 19 wides, four or five dropped short. I think they only hit five wides the whole game. It was just one of those days. Fellas that would normally kick them over in their sleep were missing them.”
But why, Kieran? Why?
“It’s hard to say. They did everything right. Galway are a good team — they wouldn’t be in an All-Ireland semi-final if they weren’t — but we had our chances. We could have won two or three games out there but, I don’t know, we just couldn’t get the ball over the bar. They weren’t hard chances, we just couldn’t seem to get them over.”
The first wide arrived two minutes after the stopwatch started and the last just as the one minute of injury-time at the end of the second half was up. The longest Kildare went without an unsuccessful effort at the Galway sticks in all the time in between was seven minutes.
Fionn Dowling was the culprit-in-chief, sending six astray and just the one over the bar, but he was in good company. Eight Kildare players fluffed their lines and only Daniel Flynn of the starting forwards was blameless.
“It’s more to do with mindset,” said McGeeney. “I wasn’t an out-and-out forward myself, so I can’t really say... but they just have to keep having faith. Everybody has bad days and you just have to keep going.
“Kildare at the minute, they’re knocking at the door, but it’s easy to walk away when you’re not getting it... you just have to keep knocking and hopefully these fellas will come through.”
It is probably a tad rough on Galway to zero in on the failings of the vanquished rather than the abilities of the victors and McGeeney’s counterpart, Alan Flynn, made the point that the Connacht side’s defence was hardly passive in the affair.
It must be added too that Kildare struggled in midfield for the first real time this season and that Galway’s 2-10 is not a scoreline to be sneezed at given they started the afternoon as distant outsiders.
Galway had to get by on a modicum of possession, with Shane Walsh their go-to guy in the forward ranks.
Their economy of effort was exceptional. Galway raised flags with two-thirds of their efforts and there is sense building that this may be their year. Again.
Scorers for Galway: S Walsh 0-6 (3f), S Moran 1-1, T Flynn 1-0, D Comer, C Mulryan, I Burke 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kildare: D Flynn 1-1, S Hurley 1-0, P Cribbin, N Kelly, F Dowling, P Fogarty 0-1 each.
Galway: T Healy; M Loughnane, J Shaughnessy, D Cunnane; D Burke, P Varley, G Canavan; F O Curraoin, T Flynn; C Mulryan, S Moran, D Comer; S Walsh, A Varley, I Burke.
Subs for Galway: C Rabbitte for D Burke (42), P Ezergailis for Cunnane (44), L Silke for Canavan (53), E Commins for Comer (60).
Kildare: M Donnellan; S Higgins, D Hyland, M Konstantin; P Cribbin, F Conway, J Byrne; T Moolick, S Hurley; D Flynn, L McGovern, F Dowling; P Brophy, P Fogarty, N Kelly.
Subs for Kildare: H Mahon for Fogarty (51), G Farrell for Dowling (56), T Gibbons for McGovern (56).
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).