There is plenty of change confirmed for the Kildare panel ahead of the start of the 2019 season, with some major departures and some eye-catching newcomers among the talking points.
Cian O’Neill revealed his 39-man panel on Sunday, which has a total of eleven players from this year’s All-Ireland U20 winning Kildare side included. In total, there are 15 players named in the panel who weren’t part of Kildare’s league or championship campaigns this year.
There is a major loss to the Kildare forward line however, with O’Neill confirming that Daniel Flynn will not be part of the panel for the 2019 season.
The forward line will also be missing Niall Kelly and Eanna O’Connor for a good portion of next year. Kelly is currently travelling and won’t be back for at least three months, while O’Connor has been consistently hampered by injury and will be taking some time out to work back to full fitness.
Ruadhan O’Giolláin will not be involved either, while Johnny Byrne has also stepped away due to personal reasons. Eamonn Callaghan, who announced his retirement earlier this year, is the only other member of the 2018 panel who’ll not be part of the plans going forward.
Flynn is currently studying for a Masters in Maynooth University and will finish that in May, and he has indicated that he hopes to go travelling before he settles into full-time work.
The Kildare management team made every effort to keep the two-time All-Star nominee involved, but O’Neill outlined that Flynn feels now is the right time for him to take a year out from the Lilywhites.
“Obviously, Daniel has been a big part of my tenure, and particularly in the last couple of years he has come into his own,” said O’Neill.
“He has grown and developed year on year, and I think that you saw last year – especially against Division 1 opposition – he was always up there with the best of them. It is very disappointing to lose a player of that calibre, and not just on the pitch; I have great time for Daniel off the pitch.
“I suppose this isn’t a decision he has taken lightly. He has had travel in his mind for the last number of years, like after his degree and then we convinced him to stay. But now he is at the end of his masters and he just feels that if he doesn’t go now before he goes into the world of full-time employment he may not get the chance again.
“We met several times over the course of the last six weeks and we’re all adults at this stage, and obviously I put forward our case; he knows what he means to the group and to the team, but he felt he had to make the decision for him and there’s nothing that I could have said or done to change his mind. We tried a lot, and that’s fair enough. It’s very disappointing, and yes it’s a blow to the team, but it’s also an opportunity for someone else.”
The Kildare manager hopes that Kelly will be back in the panel at some point in the new year, but he doesn’t know yet whether or not the Athy star will be committing following his travels.
“Niall is travelling – he is currently out of the country, so that will be approximately three months. Obviously, we hope when he’s back and finished with his travelling he is in a position to commit to the squad,” stated O’Neill.
The incoming players are certainly very interesting too, with a number of those coming in having previously played with the county at senior level. Carbury star Eoghan O’Flaherty is the headline name after taking two years out of the intercounty game, while Adam Tyrrell and Padraig Fogarty also return to the panel after impressive club seasons. Ben McCormack returns after taking time away to focus on an apprenticeship in 2018, while clubmate Conor Hartley is back in after impressing on his return from a serious knee injury.
Celbridge’s Kevin O’Callaghan and David Malone of Raheens are two players who will get to grips with senior county football for the first time, as will six players who were on the successful U20 side this year. Mark Barrett, DJ Earley, Aaron Masterson, Jason Gibbons, Tony Archbold, Padraig Nash and John O’Toole have all been brought in to be looked at, while Mark Dempsey, Brian McLoughlin, Jimmy Hyland and Aaron O’Neill all had varying levels of involvement last year.
Cathal McNally looks unlikely to play much football in the early part of the year as he recovers from an Achilles tendon rupture, which is currently being assessed on a month by month basis by the Kildare medical staff.
The players were taking part in a training camp in the Curragh Camp on Sunday, where they met up with the new look management team for the first time. Tom Cribbin, Karl O’Dwyer and Alan Flynn make up O’Neill’s management team for 2019, with Ronan Sweeney and Enda Murphy stepping away from their roles following two years of involvement.
None of the Two Mile House players were involved on Sunday as they prepare for a Leinster Intermediate Championship final, and Kildare’s training next Saturday morning has been scheduled for early in the day to allow players to travel and support the Kildare club in Tullamore.
Kildare senior football panel:
Mark Donnellan- Maynooth
Fionn Dowling- Suncroft
Aaron O’Neill- Carbury
Paschal Connell- Athy
Peter Kelly- Two Mile House
Fergal Conway- Celbridge
David Hyland- Athy
Aaron Masterson- Moorefield
Mick O Grady- Celbridge
David Slattery- Confey
Mark Hyland- Athy
Paul Cribbin- Johnstownbridge
Mark Dempsey- Moorefield
Mark Sherry- Two Mile House
Mark Barrett- Ballymore Eustace
Paddy Brophy- Celbridge
DJ Earley- Monasterevan
Eoghan O’Flaherty- Carbury
John O’Toole- Monasterevan
Adam Tyrrell- Moorefield
Eoin Doyle- Naas
Tony Archbold- Celbridge
Keith Cribbin- Johnstownbridge
Neill Flynn- Maynooth
Cian O’Donoghue- Clane
Chris Healy- Two Mile House
Kevin Flynn- Celbridge
Jimmy Hyland- Ballyteague
James Murray- Moorefield
Padraig Nash- Monasterevan
Conor Hartley- Sarsfields
Ben McCormack- Sarsfields
David Malone- Raheens
Brian McLaughlin- Clane
Jason Gibbons- Kilcock
Podge Fogarty- St Laurence’s
Kevin Feely- Athy
Kevin O’Callaghan- Celbridge
Tommy Moolick- Leixlip
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