Kildare great Dermot Earley has revealed his frustration with the decision of David Hyland and Darroch Mulhall to walk out on the panel midsummer.
Hyland featured as a substitute in last weekend’s heavy Leinster championship loss to Dublin before informing manager Jason Ryan that he was leaving the panel to travel. Mulhall has made a similar decision after being overlooked in all three of their championship matches so far.
It’s a considerable blow to Ryan’s options ahead of tomorrow’s All-Ireland qualifier clash with neighbours Offaly in Tullamore.
Two-time All Star midfielder Earley said he could partly understand why talented attacker Mulhall was quitting after the lack of action though suggested both should have stayed.
Asked if it was a reflection on the current difficulties in Kildare that two players would walk out, Earley took a different view.
“I would argue that that’s a reflection on themselves as well,” said Earley. “The way I see it is, you stay and you can fight or... okay, Darroch Mulhall wasn’t on the starting team, he hadn’t been considered. But David Hyland was right in there. So I was a little disappointed that they went because maybe it indicates that it didn’t mean as much as you would like from a Kildare man. That’s what was disappointing.”
Defections from weaker county panels after early provincial championship exits aren’t uncommon, though Kildare have rarely had such a problem. Earley said he couldn’t say for certain why it’s happening now though he suggested they may lack leaders.
“These are young lads. In the past, fellas like ‘Roly’ Sweeney were there, Johnny Doyle, that alone is a couple of real leaders gone out of that team that would have influenced players in the past. That’s probably what we’re lacking at the moment.”
However, Kildare have a strong qualifier record. “After a defeat like last weekend, I think you need to go away and spend a week alone recovering from the game,” said Earley.
“Then you spend maybe the weekend refocusing and the next week training properly again. It’s mentally hard to get over that game. But we have had a few of them in the past and I think they’ll give it their best shot.”
Earley said it was hard not to be frustrated with Kildare’s limp display against Dublin, which resulted in a 19-point defeat.
“I think Kildare went in with hope —- if you hope you’re going to win the game, you’re not going to win it, you have to really believe you’re going to win. And they didn’t, they didn’t believe.
“We were all hoping, including myself, that they would be within a 10-point margin, that you could build on that going into the qualifiers.
“But it was disappointing, the level that they played at. A lot of things were disappointing, disappointed with fitness levels, I was disappointed that they waited until the second half to really put the fight up.
“That’s worrying but I do know a lot of these lads and I do know that they’ve taken a lot of these beatings in the past and they’ve bounced back. They’re strong mentally,” he added.
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