AFTER shooting 17 wides, the question was inevitable and Kieran McGeeney didn’t look too surprised when the statistic about his Kildare team’s finishing was raised.
Quick as a flash, he cast his mind back to the start of April in Dungannon when his team managed just five points against Tyrone, a result and performance which virtually ended their hopes of gaining promotion from Division Two.
“I’m a lot happier today than I would have been against Tyrone when we didn’t have any shots,” he said.
“When you’re taking shots you’ve a chance of scoring and when you don’t shoot you don’t have a chance of scoring.
“It’s the first day in the championship, you’re going to be nervous, we had a lot of young lads out there.”
Speculation was rife that John Doyle was set to take a midfield berth against Wicklow and so it came to pass.
The ankle injury to midfielder Darryl Flynn, who McGeeney revealed should return to training in two weeks, perhaps forced the manager’s hand but the strategy worked.
“Some people laughed at us when we talked about it but then with Daryl being hurt we weren’t left with much choice. But he (John) is a good player and in my book good players can play anywhere. You’re just looking to see what suits.
“The next day we go out, Meath have a very big midfield. Today we lost a lot of breaking ball, I don’t know why because we’d normally be fairly effective on those. Outside of maybe 10 or 12 minutes in the second-half, we moved forward with the ball rather than laterally and caused them problems but we seemed to take the wrong option.”
Mick O’Dwyer was left to rue a dreadful second-half display which would have been a barren one score-wise were if not for Leighton’s Glynn’s free with the last kick of the game.
“Kildare were way sharper than we were. We have a lot of work to do. The fact that we were only beaten by seven points in the finish was amazing as they dominated the second-half.”
O’Dwyer admitted the fact Stephen Kelly played a full part in the Wicklow hurlers’ Christy Ring semi-final on Saturday, in which Glynn also came on as a sub, was a distraction.
“Ii didn’t help. The hurling appears to be important to them in Wicklow.
“It is my last year and I wasn’t going to be putting up a big fight over it.”
As well as Doyle, McGeeney paid tribute to his full-back line.
“We would hope that it’s a sign that our players have matured in terms of their ability to mark their men. I thought the full-back line, once we stopped them we were going a long way towards stopping their scores. We got the ball well up into our own full-forward line with plenty of attacks.”
Meanwhile, McGeeney also confirmed long-term cruciate victim Michael Conway is set to play for the county juniors on Wednesday night.
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