THE cold and windy weather might have been unseasonable but it’s second nature to Kildare corner-forward Chris Healy.
Healy spent the winter wearing the number 15 jersey for his school, Newbridge College, but on Saturday he was wearing the same jersey for his county Gaelic football team. The rugby full-back was an integral part of the College side that reached the Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final and his pace and strength were huge assets to the county minors as they brushed Offaly aside in their Leinster minor quarter-final.
Healy finished the game with two points and posed plenty of problems for the Offaly full-back line although he admitted that it was a nervous feeling at the beginning.
“We were nervous and had a few shots that didn’t go well for us but we kept on going and pulled through in the end. Once the goals came, we were flying,” said the Two Mile House teenager. Kildare took a 2-7 to 0-3 into half-time and from there it was plain sailing for the young Lilies.
“We put the head down and we worked hard. Bryan (Murphy) had us set out to do the simple things well,” said Healy, whose rugby career is on hold while he concentrates on the county minor campaign.
“Rugby’s done now. It starts back up in June but I told them (Newbridge College) that I’m here with Kildare and Bryan knows that as well so I’ll be flat out with this.”
With no major exams until next year, the fifth year student could yet have a busy summer ahead if Kildare can get past Dublin in the Leinster semi-final on 6 July in Parnell Park but his manager Bryan Murphy won’t be looking beyond the Dubs.
“Bigger tests lie ahead of us,” said Murphy after watching his side coast to a 15-point win.
“We’re very happy with it. It might have been a different story if we had to go into the second half without those two goals (before half-time) but I was very happy with the way the guys played. The important thing is they worked hard and they created the opportunities.”
The Kildare manager had to work without Balyna’s Cein McMonagle – who won an All-Ireland schools title with St Mary’s Edenderry last year – after McMonagle failed a fitness test on Thursday night.
“Cein hurt himself a few weeks ago so on Thursday night we tried him. He hadn’t responded well enough to treatment to put him in there. I won’t play any fella that isn’t 100 per cent,” said Murphy.
McMonagle’s loss was hardly felt against a poor Offaly side, who did little to trouble the Lilies. Central to Kildare’s superiority was their dominance at midfield while they had clearly done their homework on kickouts, winning 11 compared to Offaly’s four in the second half.
“It’s (kickouts) just one of a number of things that we’ve been working on. In fairness what Brian (Lacey – new selector) brought to the table this year was holding possession from kickouts,” said Murphy.
With an extended break until the Leinster semi-final as the Leaving Cert takes centre-stage for most of his players, Murphy has plenty of time to hone his side for what will be a huge challenge against Dublin in early July.