Kildare turned in a much improved performance around the middle third against Mayo having been cleaned out against Dublin.
That poor showing at headquarters meant wholesale changes and once Kildare found a footing in the game, it paid dividends. Shane Connolly suffered the axe following that defeat in Croke Park as under-21 keeper Mark Donnellan took charge between the posts against Mayo.
“Shane’s a great keeper. He wasn’t doing anything wrong goalkeeping wise, he is great under the high ball, great shot stopper, he’s just maybe lost a bit of confidence on his kick outs,” said manager Kieran McGeeney of the decision to drop the St Laurence’s man.
Although Donnellan didn’t have to make a save of note, his kickouts were varied and accurate. Kildare won possession on 16 of their own kick outs with Daniel Flynn, Hugh Lynch and late substitute David Hyland all winning two clean catches each.
“There are a lot of people involved in a kick-out, not just the person kicking it out. In fairness, the players worked a wee bit harder this time in terms of what they are supposed to do,” said McGeeney.
Kildare also gobbled up possession on the ground on four occasions from their own kickout. The problem that Kildare faced in the first half was that when they lost possession on their own kickout, it more often than not ended up in a score for Mayo. Of the five times that possession was lost on a Donnellan kick-out, three times it led directly to a Mayo point.
Unlike the Dublin game, Kildare at least contested the Mayo kickouts but they were far less successful against their opponents. Kildare won possession on three Mayo kick outs in the first half and two after the break but the success enjoyed in the opening 35 minutes came at a crucial time. Padraig O’Neill and Eoin Doyle picked up crucial ball when momentum was shifting in Kildare’s favour.
“Both Daniel (Flynn) and Hughie (Lynch) did (well), Paudi (O’Neill) put in a good shift too, he knows himself that he didn’t have a good first half but he came more into it in the second half. A tighter pitch maybe suited Hughie, he’s fit to take the clatters they were giving him and he caught a lot of ball there,” said McGeeney of his middle men.
THE KICKOUT BATTLE
Kildare – Own kickout 16 9
Kildare – Mayo kickout 5 12
Total 21 21
2 or more Kickouts Won Clean Break
Daniel Flynn 3 2 1
Hugh Lynch 2 2 0
David Hyland 2 2 0
Mick Foley 2 1 1
Padraig O’Neill 2 1 1
Eoin Doyle 2 0 2
Morgan O’Flaherty 2 0 2