Kieran McGeeney has backed Kildare to win a Leinster title but admits he might not be the man to lead them over the line.
The Lilywhites have only managed provincial glory twice since 1956 and not won an All-Ireland since 1928. The weight of continuously failing to scale the mountain, regardless of the remarkable progress made since Syl Merrins persuaded McGeeney to take charge in 2007, makes fulfilling the dreams of the players and ravenous supporters a difficult task.
“When you are trying to change a culture, a mindset… you are fighting against that,” said McGeeney. “But you have a group of players who are well capable of doing that and more but it is about getting them over that particular line. I am hoping I will be part of that but it may not be. But they are going to do it soon enough.”
Another constant hurdle is the presence of Dublin. Having won the Division 1 league title, they are the top of the betting lists once again.
With Kildare scheduled to meet Jim Gavin’s crew in a Leinster semi-final should results go as expected, it doesn’t make sense to say Kildare must win a Leinster title this year.
“It is very hard to go into the amount of permutations in a winning team because there is no one thing that makes a difference. There are 100 small things. Even in terms of preparing a team, it is no coincidence that over the last 20 or 30 years that it is the bigger counties that are the ones that come to the forefront. They have the bigger pick, they have more money and you are not allowed to mention those things. But I think Kildare should be one of those teams. They have a large population, they are starting to put the right structures in place, they have great underage structures over the last number of years and the players are starting to come through.
“The next thing is to give them a winning mentality. It is not a tangible thing. I can’t tell you what that is. People call it tradition, history, so many things. Belief. Confidence. That is a hard thing to give a player.”
Six of the team that started the league semi-final defeat by Tyrone had already won a Leinster U21 title a few weeks previously.
“We came up against a strong team (Cork in the All-Ireland quarter-final last year) and those cracks we’d been maybe papering over were kicked wide open. From a management point of view you have to look at it. Maybe there were things I was convincing myself weren’t true, were true. They’re not easy to take but we took stock of them.”
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