THREE wins from three in the group stages means that Kildare head into next week’s O’Byrne Cup semi-final against Offaly in good spirits.“It should be a good game,” said Mikey Conway, who is captain for the O’Byrne campaign. “They are obviously going well but it’s still early in the year. We meet them in the championship later in the summer so there will probably be a lot of lads putting down markers for that game, we’re looking forward to it. Every game helps at this time of year, you get much more out of any game compared to training. The more games the better,” he said.
But before that will be another week of tough pre-season training.
“I’m sure there will be a few ‘interesting’ things for us to do at training during the week,” smiled Conway, who knows there is still plenty to work on ahead of the league opener against Donegal on 2 February.
“I suppose we were getting tired near the end there but you can use that as an excuse as well. We dropped off a lot at the end and weren’t breaking the game line as much as we wanted to but it’s early in the year and we have lots to work on,” Conway said.
“We were disappointing with dropping off at the end. 10, 15 minutes from the end we were coasting but we dropped off, let them in for a few soft points and then conceded the goal but in fairness, James Eaton hit a great ball and Morgan was composed and finished well,” he added.
Having faced off against two college sides in the O’Byrne Cup before Sunday’s game, Conway said that Wexford presented Kildare’s toughest test of the year to date.
“Wexford had a stronger team out there than either of the college teams and they really put it up to us and nearly robbed it at the end,” he said.
Kildare shone in the early stages of the second half when they rattled off six points in a row. It was a period that showed the potential of the team.
“We talked about it at half-time and came out and did it for 10 or 15 minutes but unfortunately we couldn’t keep it going. We had some good moves, some good scores but as I said, we got out of jail at the end,” said Conway.
Integrating new players into the team is just as important as the result at this time of year and the captain is impressed by the impact the new faces have made.
“There are under-21s coming in there the whole time. Paddy Brophy is a good player, able to kick off both feet, the same with Cotsy (Cathal McNally) and Daniel Flynn is a colossus of a player. There is a conveyor belt of players coming through, James Eaton came on and took his chance, he set up the goal. There’s lots of competition,” he said.
Although not quite yet 27, Conway is now a real leader in the team and his role as captain means that he will try to look after these new lads, especially those who play near him in defence, like Mick Konstantin.
“There is a lot of experience in the backs. Mick Foley is there, Bolton is there as well, we try and help them as much as we can but Mick is a good player, he has come up through the under-21s and he is taking his chance when he gets it,” he said.