KILDARE’S under-21 players will be free to play this weekend’s national league semi-final against Tyrone.
Manager Kieran McGeeney – who is in charge of both sides – will not rest his younger players, who will play Galway in an All-Ireland under-21 semi-final just six days later on 20 April.
“Ah no, it’s an All-Ireland semi-final, senior level. In terms of importance it’s the second biggest competition that you can win in the GAA so they will all be available for selection,” said McGeeney. “There is as much chance of getting hurt in that as there is in training, especially the way those boys train,” he said.
Kildare will meet Tyrone in the Division 1 semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday. The Red Hand men enjoyed a six-point win against Kildare at Newbridge in round six of the league.
“We know as much about each other at this stage,” said McGeeney. “We played twice last year and this year as well. They are going well, they were unlucky not to finish top of the division. I’m sure they are delighted with pulling us out of the draw. I think both teams will enjoy playing there (Croke Park). I’m looking forward to it,” said McGeeney.
His defence didn’t enjoy a pleasant afternoon in Newry last Sunday though. Shipping three goals to a Down side that were relegated from this year’s league left the Kildare manager with plenty of ponder.
“The way we gave away the goals was the worst part of it but then we had the goal chances we couldn’t take them. Some things worked, some things didn’t. Paul Cribbin was good again, Sean (Hurley) did well when he came on, Johnny (Doyle) getting back from a shoulder injury was good, we were just a little bit porous at the back. We seemed to get a bit confused at times but I suppose that is what we wanted, to try a few things today to see if they would work, some of them didn’t at the back,” he said.
Two of the more notable experiments saw Peter Kelly line out at wing-forward and Padraig O’Neill fill the troublesome centre-back role.
“Peter did well, he just doesn’t seem to have any luck with referees at all. It’s amazing the fouls that other players can get, you’d feel for him, some of things he is called on are harsh. Paudi (O’Neill) did ok, I think there was just a bit of confusion back there that led to the three goals, fellas getting caught out of position, something we have to work on,” he said.
Kildare were right in the game at the half-time break but sleepwalked their way through the opening minutes of the second half and Down were able to take advantage. On the positives, Paul Cribbin turned in an excellent display on his full senior debut while long-term injury victims Eamonn Callaghan and Daryl Flynn got some badly needed gametime.
“He (Cribbin) did very well, it was good, it gives me plenty to think about. They (Callaghan and Flynn) played reasonably well.”