In many respects Kildare's two remaining Alliance Football League Division 2 games, against Cavan (this Sunday) and Westmeath (the following Saturday) are possibly more important and more vital than the upcoming Leinster Football Championship, such is Kildare's precarious position on the league table.
Notwithstanding the fact that The Lilies, lying second from bottom, but depending how this weekend's results pan out, it it not inconceivable that a win for Jack O'Connor's side, and if the results go in Kildare's favour, they (Kildare) could shoot right up the table.
A loss on the other hand would make their final game against Westmeath a real make or break defining game.
Manager, Jack O'Connor, admitted that the build-up to this Sunday's clash with Cavan is something he has never experienced before.
“We have had less than a half a dozen sessions, and less with the full panel; that second lockdown in Kildare was a real blow but it is what it is and we'll just have to get on with it” he told the Leader this week.
Asked if he agreed that playing the final two league games was the right way to go, he replied “absolutely, it will be great preparation for the upcoming Leinster Championship and really if it was decided to postpone the League they would have to postpone the championship, so I think definitely it is the right decision to go ahead with the remaining two league games, even if we have two games that we need to win but they are at least two home games so that should certainly be a help to us.”
Would you say the two league games are possibly more important than the Leinster Championship with Kildare in such a dodgy position, second from bottom, in Division 2?
“There is nothing more important than the championship but there is no doubt about it but those two league games are vital for us because the league is going to be a real dog-fight and that's for sure; everyone is scrapping for points so they will be highly competitive games, but certainly great preparation for the championship.
“The preparation has not been ideal but that's the way it is, the players have come back in in very good form, they all seem up for the challenge so we will see where that will take us.”
Looking ahead to the Cavan on Sunday, the manager admitted that the loss of Niall Kelly is a big blow, “Niall has enjoyed a great club championship, he is a very experienced lad at this stage and definitely we will miss him” adding “Jack Robinson is another big doubt with a hamstring that kept him out of the IFC final, while Daniel Flynn has ongoing issues with his hamstring which flared up again in the senior championship, not ideal, that is three inside forwards but it gives other lads the opportunity to step forward and hold up their hands.”
While admitting that he and his management team have not made huge additions to the panel (even if a dozen have departed from the original league panel) Jack was quick to point out that Fergal Conway missed the entire league campaign to date and is now back in again, while Ben McCormack, Mark Dempsey and Matty Byrne who were all unavailable up to now are all back now, as is Aaron Masterson, along with the lads we have brought in so the returning lads will hopefully off-set some of the lads that are not now with us for various different reasons.”
As far as keeping lads healthy, fit and coronavirus free, the manager explains that it is really quiet simple “if any of the lads have a bit of a cold or a sniffle they stay away; we had one lad with a cold but he stayed away, got a test and is fine; really we are simply following the protocol we were given and after that just hoping for the best we don't have an outbreak in the camp.