Take the fight to Dublin, Johnny Doyle urges players

Kildare legend Johnny Doyle has challenged the county’s big players to seize the responsibility and take the fight to provincial heavyweights Dublin.

Take the fight to Dublin, Johnny Doyle urges players

Doyle, now working as a coach in Kildare, believes Leinster as a province, needs teams to step up and pressurise Dublin, acknowledging that ‘11 of the last 12 Leinster titles going to Dublin doesn’t make good reading for the rest of us’.

Kildare have won three of the last four Leinster minor titles but have slipped down the senior pecking order behind Meath and Westmeath.

The return of midfielder Sean Hurley from an Aussie Rules stint is a welcome boost for 2017 though Doyle said what’s required is a group of key performers to grasp the nettle now and lead by example.

“We can get fixated about Dublin this and Dublin that but I think there will come a time (when someone will catch them) and you’d be hoping from a Kildare point of view that there’s enough character there to say, ‘We need to stop this and let’s start looking at ourselves’,” said Doyle.

“Obviously, the setup has got to be good but if a group of players say they need A, B and C, any set up I’ve been involved in the answer has always been, ‘Yeah, we’ll get that for you’.

“But I’d be hoping that in Kildare it’s the characters within the team that’ll say, ‘Do you know what, there’s 30 lads here and what difference is it (between us and Dublin)? We’re not going to accept this anymore, let’s kick on’.

“That’s the big challenge, whether we have that or not. But that’s what you’re striving to do, to get that crop of players that have tasted success at underage level and bring them on to the next level. Hopefully over the next couple of years they’ll see that opportunity but it is a big challenge in Kildare.”

Doyle believes that a successful senior team in Kildare would provide a lift at all levels in the county, recalling how as a child he modelled his own game on Larry Tompkins who was winning All-Irelands with Cork.

“When I was 10, Meath and Cork were the two teams and they were big influences, even to this day I’d nearly name both teams that played in those All-Irelands and yet I can barely name teams that I played on myself,” continued Doyle.

“They were the teams on the telly and Larry Tompkins was the main man for Cork, obviously having the link with Kildare. I was out in the garden at 10 years of age kicking frees off the ground - I was Larry Tompkins. That’s the influence it had and I continued to do that throughout my career, to kick frees, and a lot of that was because Larry Tompkins was my influence.

“So that’s what I’m saying, I think when the senior team is functioning well it drives everything.

“I remember in my own club, My Da was chairman when we won our one and only county championship. He said for years they’d be there outside Mass with the biscuit tin trying to get a few quid and then when we were going well there were people coming up to him giving him money because they wanted to be associated with success. I think it’s the same at county level.”

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