AS well as leaving Cork with two points on Saturday night, Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney was pleased to report good progress on the injury front.
Every player used came through the second round league fixture unscathed and McGeeney hopes the three-week break until the next outing against Kerry will help the long-term absentees.
“Everybody is ok. We’re still pushing to get Daryl (Flynn) and Leper (Eamon Callaghan) and Dermot (Earley) back on the pitch. Dermot put in a half last week against Crossmaglen (for the under-21s), a good half, so did Hughie (Lynch). Leper is back running now so hopefully that will push on over the next few weeks. Alan (Smith) is ready to come out of the traps at the minute but like everybody else he’ll have to work hard to get there.”
Retaining their Division 1 status remains McGeeney’s main focus despite a perfect start to the league, which has the Lilies in second place after picking up two wins and four points from the opening two games.
“We’re looking for whatever the magic number is, probably six to eight points. Whatever it is to keep us in the division,” said McGeeney. “That’s a big thing, not just for the team but for the county as well. It’s definitely better for the county in a whole load of ways, financially and developmental-wise for the kids. That’s our goal now and then we’ll try concentrate on the summer,” he said.
Going into the three week-break last year, Kildare have no points after defeats to Tyrone and Monaghan but they managed to regroup and eventually went on to win Division 2.
“This time last year we hadn’t won any games and we ended up winning the league. We have Kerry next and Dublin after the break, we could be sitting bottom after four games. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be here. I’m delighted going into the three-week break but I still think we have a lot of work to do but four points, if you had asked me if I wanted that before the beginning I would have taken hand and all off you. I’m happy with that but I wouldn’t be getting carried away with it.”
He doesn’t believe the break will be a hindrance to the team and he is looking forward to working his players hard.
“The players will have a lot of hard work to do over the next three weeks. It’s very hard to get the work done when there are so many games. We’ve played six games back-to-back so we’ve literally had no fitness work done, just games. You can’t train fellas hard with so many games but what we are getting is game time for a lot of players and that’s good.”
On the game itself, McGeeney felt that the sending off of Damian Cahalane was an obvious boost to Kildare hopes.
“It definitely gave us more space. I would have felt at the time that they were taking the limited chances they had whereas we were squandering in front of the goals but I always felt we had our chances. There was never going to be more than one or two points in it.”
Kildare utilised that space well with Mikey Conway ending up as the loose man more often than not but McGeeney singled out man-of-the-match Padraig O’Neill for special praise.
“The sending off is always going to leave a defender free and Mikey (Conway) probably got a wee bit of it today and it worked well but I have to mention Paudi, the amount of possession the man went through was serious. He put in a great shift for us in both halves.”
As well as O’Neill, Niall Kelly was another to catch the eye, as did fellow substitute Tomás O’Connor.
“Niall did well but you’d have to give credit to Tom, he did very well for both goals but he (Kelly) does seem to have a knack for turning up in the right place alright.”