Plenty to ponder for O’Neill as National League comes into view

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Plenty to ponder for O’Neill as National League comes into view
By Robert Cribbin 19:45 Monday 7th of January 2019

Kildare’s O’Byrne Cup campaign has come and gone but you get the feeling that Cian O’Neill and his selectors won't dwell on it long as they get prepared for the 'real' action.

Kildare looked like a team that had just entered the field after a heavy training session on Sunday afternoon, as they performed sluggishly for the most part in their six point defeat to Westmeath and a weekend away a week previous certainly puts the performance in perspective.

“To be fair to the lads, we have had a tough pre-season with a lot of them playing Sigerson Cup and obviously trying to get that balance but no, that performance wouldn’t have been good enough to beat anyone today, 14 or 15 men - we just weren’t at it”.

“We were on camp last weekend and the lads are probably tired but there are still no excuses though. We’d be most disappointed with not executing the basics”.

The Lillywhites had led until Paschal Connell’s red card five minutes before half-time; Kildare only scored two points on resumption of play so Connell's sending off could definitely be seen as the turning point.

There were no complaints from the management though as O’Neill  brushed away any thoughts of it affecting the result.

“The red card did have an impact on the game but even before, that we weren’t at it, we weren’t at it at all on Sunday”.

“The basic skills in foot passing is something we take pride in and it worked relatively well in the last two games as we moved the ball with speed and purpose but both our kicking and catching was off from the throw-in”.

“Our skill execution was very poor and I think we had 39 turnovers over the course of the game. Our shooting accuracy was off and we looked a tired team today”, he admitted.

O’Neill and Kildare will have no doubt already turned their attention towards the start of the National League which begins in a couple of weeks and while Jimmy Hyland is expected to be fit after going off in the Offaly game with a hamstring injury, there are other worries for the manager.

The sight of Kevin Flynn in a protected boot at the Downs on Sunday afternoon would have worried many fans and himself and Kevin O’Callaghan look set to miss the start of the campaign as the Celbridge duo continue to suffer with long-term injuries.

“Kevin Flynn fractured his metatarsal just before Christmas and he was already out for some time after the club season with a bad shoulder injury so we were trying to get him back to full health in pre-season and he was just back on the pitch when he had a freak injury in fracturing his foot so he’s going to be out for at least another four weeks”.

“Kevin O’Callaghan is also injured at the moment after he got a bad knock on his ankle during a College game in Maynooth and although that happened in early November it’s still taking a long time to heal so he’s the other main loss we have at the moment but everyone else is if not maintaining full health returning to full health”.

Photo Pat Tinsley

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