DUBLIN’S shock exit to Longford may have catapulted Kildare into the role of favourties but there’s only one thing on the manager’s mind: Laois.
“Kildare and Laois go back a long way as I found out when I came here so there will be no quarter asked or given in that game. We know we have a big game ahead of us. It’s very hard to get across to people that winning one game at this level can get you on a bit of a run. Hopefully tonight will solidify the team and let them drive on a bit,” said McGeeney after Wednesday night’s victory against Meath in their Leinster quarter-final.
The manager admitted he was wary of travelling to Pairc Tailteann.
“Meath had played a game and we hadn’t,” said McGeeney. “They had a good defensive system as well, they were hard to break down. When the fellas got on top and were moving it a wee bit quicker they were able to break it down, they moved a wee bit in the second half with it. I think it showed tonight, fellas were a wee bit laid back, there were free-kicks against them and then the next thing they were down four or five points.”
The game swung back in Kildare’s favour after an incisive run by Daniel Flynn ended with Niall Kelly finding the net after 25 minutes.
“That took us back into it. They settled after that,” said the manager, who had already made his first substitution of the night by then, replacing Daniel Grehan with Sean Hurley in midfield.
“Sean coming into it made a big difference as well, it turned things around for us. He was brilliant. Sean has been struggling with an ankle injury recently and in fairness to Daniel Grehan he had been playing really well in all the games. The game just seemed to pass Daniel by. It’s tough on young fellas like that there, they are not used to the cut and thrust of inter-county football and if they are not producing it somebody else comes on. Daniel will grow in strength from that. Sean, the first thing he did when he came on he caught the ball and then was on the end of it to score. I thought he had a great game for us.”
The system used by the under-21s would have been similar to anybody who has seen the senior team play this year with Kildare looking to utilise the powerful full-forward line of Padraig Fogarty, Fionn Dowling and Paddy Brophy as often and as early as possible.
“I think the way we are playing suits the players we have. There are some good forwards and you need to get the ball into them quickly. We do that and set it up. There were some great moves out there, we went to sleep once or twice like the seniors, we’ve let players in along the byline before and it happened again tonight which we should never have done. There are a lot of things to work at,” said McGeeney.
The return to fitness of Paul Cribbin will another boost to the side during the game. The Johnstownbridge man came on in the closing stages for his first appearance in a Kildare jersey since the 2010 Leinster minor semi-final.
“He’s just back from groin surgery. He’s done full training over the weekend and we just wanted to get a few minutes into him. He’s an incredible athlete and I know he is going to want to push hard to start in the next game,” said the manager, who expects Cribbin to be fit to face Laois on 20 March.