HE was very nearly the perfect poacher but Seanie Johnston landed a big enough catch to see Kildare over the line against Kerry.
Flawless he wasn’t but there was more than just his shooting to admire as the Cavan man finished with 1-3 from play. Honesty has always been one of McGeeney’s biggest demands and Johnston’s appetite for the battle was surely tested in the second half when possession was hard to come by up front. It was telling then that he began to drift further out and even picked up possession on his own 20-metre line in the 50th minute – on hand to assist Hugh McGrillen after the corner-back had got a hand in to force a turnover.
It wasn’t the only time that Johnston popped up in his own half and he was there again carrying the ball forward in the final minute as a link man from defence when Ollie Lyons was coming out with possession. It doesn’t sound like the kind of job that would interest your typical corner-forward in the final minute of a game in which he’s already scored 1-3.
Working alongside Tomas O’Connor seems to suit Johnston and the two combined for the latter’s goal in the 11th minute when O’Connor held off half the Kerry defence before off-loading to his inside partner. The timing of Johnston’s run was telling as he got into position at the ideal moment.
Already by then he had been on the ball twice, attempting two shots that were poorly executed from the right. For someone who is supposed to be a confidence player those wides didn’t adversely affect him.
Buoyed by the goal, his next contribution was to win a free which John Doyle converted. He repeated that trick again before the half was out and picked off two points from play in the 27th and 33rd minutes. By the end of the opening 35 minutes Johnston had been in the play just nine times yet he had been the cause of 1-4.
He was just as menacing after the break when he pilfered a point off the back of Daniel Flynn’s solo run, just when it looked like the Kerry defence had it covered. His quietest spell of the game coincided with Kerry’s resurgence and Johnston had just four touches in 30 minutes after half-time.
His shooting deteriorated as he kicked a wide and left another shot short. He also dirtied his bib with a needless yellow card in the 69th minute for pulling down a man off-the-ball. It was good refereeing by the linesman to alert Eddie Kinsella as the foul occurred well away from the play. It was pointless too because Johnston wasn’t slowing down the play.
Still it was hard to argue with his man-of-the-match award. Without him, Kildare wouldn’t have come close to winning.
Shots Scores Wides Short Assists
First Half 5 1-2 2 0 2
Second Half 3 0-1 1 1 0
Total 8 1-3 3 1 2