Kevin Feely was one of the most interesting players to watch in Navan on Saturday evening. The Athy midfielder – if we can still call him that – started around the middle before drifting in to full-forward after a few minutes. Not long later he was out at centre-forward, then he was back in the middle claiming Marks and dictating play. It’s all part of a new role that has been worked on in training, and, as Cian O’Neill alluded to after the victory over Longford, Feely is practising all aspects of full-forward play.
“A rover,” laughed Feely when asked to describe his position.
“I think there’s different periods of the game where I have to play midfield and other periods I’m in the full-forward line. There’s a lot of running, but I’m enjoying the role since we started doing that. It’s not really a whole lot different from the usual, it’s just about trying to get inside a little bit more.
“When I’m being lined out inside in training matches, I just started getting lads before training to start kicking it into me with my back towards goal and trying to get used to getting the ball with my back to goal and getting shots away.”
The former professional soccer player said that there was plenty of pressure on the team in the build-up to this game after beating Mayo the previous week, with an air of expectancy and the potential carrot of a Super 8 place placing added focus on this game.
“After Saturday, after that wore off, there was a massive amount of pressure coming into this week,” Feely explained.
“It wasn’t an enjoyable pressure because this was the biggest game of all of our lives. It was bigger than the Mayo game in terms of the consequences of getting into the Super 8’s. Last week would have counted for absolutely nothing, so there was definitely a lot of tension in training. We were very keen not to get carried away but at the same time wanted to keep that positivity from last week as well, so it was quite an intense camp this week, but I think we handled it well.
“Based off the experience last year of having a good Leinster campaign and then coming into the Armagh game, possibly over confident or without the same focus we should have had – I think that really helped us this week in terms of making sure we were completely focused on the job at hand.”
It’s a world away from a bad spring where Kildare lost all seven league games and then bowed out of the Leinster Championship following an abysmal performance against Carlow. Not many would have predicted that Kildare would be one of eight teams left standing come the second weekend in July – even Feely had his doubts.
“Probably not,” concluded Feely when asked if he thought Kildare would make it this far after the Carlow game.
“That was such a suckerpunch and such a blow that it was hard to look past any game in any format, but in fairness the attitude after the Carlow game, even though there was a severe dent to the confidence and massive hurt there, the attitude of everyone was how do we get to the bottom of this as quick as possible?
“Going into the following training week we made it our business to try and find out the cause of why everyone was so below par and immediately went about trying to fix that. We got massive encouragement from the Derry game and much more belief in ourselves that we’re not as bad as we showed in the Carlow game. Thankfully we’ve been able to build on that since then.”
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