As has been the case more often than not during Kildare’s return to Division 1, their man-of-the-match was a member of the under-21 team. Niall Kelly and Daniel Flynn have earned plenty of rave reviews as Kildare booked their place in the league semi-final and on Sunday in the final round of the league against Down it was the turn of Paul Cribbin.
The ginger giant from Johnstownbridge made his senior debut last time out as a half-time substitute against Tyrone and looked equally at home when pitched in for his first senior start against Down.
“Obviously I was delighted to be starting but I am still not happy after the game because we didn’t win obviously and play to our full potential. I was definitely glad to get the nod, it’s just a pity that we couldn’t win,” he said.
Cribbin’s debut saw him kick three points against Tyrone and he notched two more from wing-back against Down although he felt that he didn’t contribute as much as he could.
“That was the work of the forwards to get the ball out to me for the scores. I wasn’t really able to get forward as much today. I didn’t have the legs on me I don’t think. It was good to get another run out today, just a pity we couldn’t push on. I think we had the chances alright, just couldn’t finish them,” he said.
On the defensive front, Kildare were opened up with alarming ease at times and Cribbin says that is something that they will be focusing on in training during the week.
“They seemed to cut through us, Kevin McKernan in particular. He scored 1-3 and he could have had a lot more. That was just a lack of communication and a lack of keeping our structure. We’ll work on that during the week and get it right for against Tyrone at the weekend.
“It does take a bit of time and a bit of game experience to get that team within a team in the backline. At the same time we are training with each other four times a week so we know each other well enough. Structure overrides personal performance, it doesn’t take into account who is there. Everybody is there to do a job, it shouldn’t really matter what personnel are there,” he said.
Despite finishing the league with two defeats, Kildare are still in the semi-final and Cribbin is looking forward to facing Tyrone again.
“It’s great for the county to reach a league semi-final. It’s great to be involved in it but we have won nothing yet and we don’t want to just settle for losing out in a semi-final. We want to push on and come into good form going into the championship. It’s all about the championship really. The two teams know each other very well, it will be interesting to see how it goes, we’ll be well prepared for it anyway,” he said.
Such is the hectic nature of fixtures for Kildare’s young stars that Cribbin barely had time to reflect on the under-21s Leinster victory on Wednesday before getting straight back down to business.
“Kieran would never let you get too high up in the clouds. We were told we had to be at training on the day after the game. The lads had to do an hour and a half training with the seniors. I didn’t do it because of the groin injury I had. I’m just keeping on top of that and don’t want to overdo it now but my groin is fine now thank God. It was straight back into it which was good as well. Without looking past the semi-final, there is an All-Ireland to be won and we’ll take each game as it comes whether it is senior or under-21s,” he said.
After Galway defeated Roscommon in the Connaught final, Kildare now know who stands between them and an under-21 final All-Ireland final.
“I was talking to Charlie McCreevy who was down at it. He said their forwards are very good, I’m sure we’ll watch footage of them and have our homework done. Hopefully we can prevail anyway,” he said.
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