AFTER a hectic week that included three games in eight days, Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney had a Leinster Final and a league semi-final to look forward to on Sunday evening.
Despite losing to Tyrone in their Division 1 clash in the Allianz Football League at Newbridge on Sunday, Kildare qualified for the semi-finals as results went their way in the other round six fixtures.
“If someone had told me at the start of the year that we’d be sitting like this, I’d have taken hand and all off,” said McGeeney, who guided the Kildare under-21s into a Leinster final on Wednesday night after victory against Laois.
A six-point loss to Tyrone means that the Lilies will finish third in the table regardless of results in round seven as the league placings are decided by head-to-head fixtures rather than score difference. Either Tyrone or Dublin will top the table after round seven and Kildare will play the team that finishes second in the league semis on 14 April.
“I would have felt we should have got a lot more out of the game considering the possession that we had in the second half,” said McGeeney of Sunday’s league game, who rested Niall Kelly, Daniel Flynn and Paddy Brophy for the game as they had played in Mayo the previous Saturday and on Wednesday in Parnell Park with the under-21s.
However Paul Cribbin made his senior debut while Sean Hurley came on in the first half in what was another positive outing for the Kildare under-21s with the seniors.
“They were brilliant,” said McGeeney of Hurley and Cribbin, who scored 0-4 between them from play, “but it probably shows the way the modern game has gone. You need pace and you need a lot of it. Paul scored three points and he missed three that he should have got.”
McGeeney also rested talisman John Doyle, who picked up a knock in the Mayo victory but the Allenwood man is expected to be available for the final round of the league against Down game on 3 April. The prospect of Dermot Earley appearing in a white shirt before the championship is looking more and more unlikely though.
“Dermot hurt his back before Dublin and it hasn’t healed since. He had an injection during the week. It’s a bad enough thing, he hasn’t been able to move since. As far as I know it’s a nerve thing, we’re just hoping that it’ll settle,” said the manager.
NFL DIVISION 1
Tyrone 6 5 1 0 87 78 10
Dublin 6 5 1 0 116 75 10
Kildare 6 4 2 0 87 95 8
Cork 6 3 3 0 81 86 6
Mayo 6 2 4 0 82 80 4
Donegal 6 2 4 0 74 74 4
Kerry 6 2 4 0 53 73 4
Down 6 1 5 0 68 87 2
NB – Placings decided on head-to-head results not score difference. Kildare will finish third regardless of final round results as they can’t overtake Dublin or Tyrone and Cork cannot overtake them
Round 6: Tyrone 1-13 Kildare 0-10; Dublin 1-15 Down 0-9; Kerry 0-11 Cork 0-7; Mayo 1-10 Donegal 0-9
Round 7 – Sunday, 7 April, 2.30pm: Down v Kildare, Newry; Cork v Mayo; Tyrone v Kerry; Donegal v Dublin
League semi-finals – Sunday, 14 April: 1 v 4, 2 v 3