Contemplating Kildare

Time stands still for none of us so, with Round 6 behind us, on we rush to the final round of Division One action in this year’s National League. Our Round 7 opponents on Sunday are Kildare, it’s another home-away-from-home fixture for us, this time at Páirc Seán MacDiarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon. Throw-in is at the earlier time of 1.45pm, the match isn’t on TV and the ref is Meath’s David Gough.

From our standpoint – and, most likely, theirs too – the first thought that comes into our heads when turning our minds towards Kildare is, of course, Newbridge or Nowhere. The Long, Hot, Summer of 2018, the Lilies’ rather quixotic stand on home advantage (something they’d happily ceded for aeons in the Leinster Championship) and then a real rip-roaring qualifier tie, which Kildare deservedly won by two points and, as a result, saw us fail to make at least an All-Ireland semi-final for the first time since 2010.

That match was our most recent meeting. We’d played them in the League that spring as well – also at St Conleth’s Park, where we came out on top by seven points – but they ended up getting relegated at the end of that campaign, as we did in 2020, and so our paths haven’t crossed since that halcyon summer evening.

While we beat them decisively in the qualifiers at MacHale Park in 2016, they pipped us by a point at Newbridge in Round 1 of the League back in 2014. Interestingly, it’s been a long time since we beat them at home in the League (we’re assuming here, as we must I guess, that Páirc Seán counts as ‘home’ for us) as the most recent time we played them in the League in Castlebar was back in 2013 where they pulled off a surprise one-point win.

You need to go all the way back to 2003, in fact, to find that most recent home win for us. That match was played at James Stephens Park in Ballina, where we came out on top by 0-12 to 0-9.

So much for ancient history. What of Kildare more recently?

Last year they were, like us, operating in Division Two and, like us, they came out on top of their section, which, in their case, was Division Two South. We would have met in the divisional final too had it been played – they beat Meath in the semi-final while we beat Clare (losing Cillian to long-term injury in the process) – but instead we both had to be content with a place back at the top table this spring.

Photo: Irish Mirror (Inpho/Lorraine O’Sullivan)

In last summer’s knockout Championship they made it as far as the Leinster final. They had five points to spare over Offaly in the quarters and just two over Westmeath in the semis before an incredibly unambitious performance against Dublin in the final, where they never really had a go at all and, predictably, got a bit of a paddling as a result.

Despite this, the Kildare faithful seemed happy enough with their lot under Jack O’Connor. But then Jack started fluttering his eyelids at the Kerry movers and shakers and very late in the day jumped ship to head back south. With Glen Ryan hurriedly installed as their new manager, Kildare looked ill-equipped for the rigours of a Division One campaign this spring.

But, to their credit, they set their stall out straight away. The fates sent Jack O’Connor, now crankily prowling the sideline as Kerry bainisteoir, back to Newbridge for Round 1 where, in front of an enormous crowd, the home team staged a late, gutsy recovery to earn a deserved share of the spoils.

A tame 2-11 to 1-9 loss to Donegal in Ballybofey followed but they had Tyrone – shorn of four first-team regulars after David Gough’s red card spree – on the rack at Omagh in Round 3 only to see the All-Ireland champions squirm loose and snatch an undeserved one-point win.

Back at St Conleth’s Park, they tore into Dessie Farrell’s disjointed Dubs in Round 4, joyously getting the better of them by 1-12 to 0-12 to record the county’s first win over Dublin since 2002.

Photo: Sky Sports

Wins over Ulster opposition in Division One have also been a rarity for the Lilies. A 1-12 to 0-10 loss to Armagh in the Athletic Grounds in Round 5 underscored this fact but then in Newbridge last Sunday they cut loose against Monaghan, ramming over 24 points to record a stunning nine-point win over the Farneymen.

So, while Kildare aren’t yet safe in Division One, they travel to Carrick next Sunday knowing that their destiny lies in their own hands. If they beat us they’ll definitely stay up, which gives them powerful motivation to secure a rare result away from home turf.

I think it’s fair to say we haven’t anything like the same burning desire to get a win. There’s a school of thought that holds we’re actively doing what we can to avoid qualifying for a League final and, while I’m not sure that’s a line of argument I’d subscribe to, I do think it’s fairly obvious that we’re not straining every sinew to book our place in Croke Park in early April either.

Regardless of who wants to win and who arguably doesn’t, one reason that Sunday’s clash could be an evenly-matched contest is because a number of players who are likely to be involved in Carrick came up against each other in the All-Ireland U20 final back in 2018.

Photo: Mayo News

For us, that cohort comprises Jordan Flynn and Ryan O’Donoghue. Tommy Conroy, sadly sidelined for the year now, also started in that U20 final while Oisín Mullin featured for us earlier in that campaign but not in the final.

For them, Jimmy Hyland – who scored ten points in the final – was their main man then. Others from the current Kildare team who were on that U20 team four years ago include Aaron O’Neill (goalkeeper), Tony Archbold, Darragh Ryan, Paddy Woodgate and Brian McLoughlin.

So, there you have it. Kildare with everything to fight for, while we’re unsure we even want the prize that victory will bring. But, as the song goes, you can’t always get what you want. Let’s finish, then, with our usual straw poll: how is this one going to go?

How will we do against Kildare?

  • Win (58%, 422 Votes)
  • Lose (29%, 210 Votes)
  • Draw (13%, 92 Votes)

Total Voters: 724

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41 thoughts on “Contemplating Kildare

  1. 24 scores is a serious score no matter what the circumstances- Jimmy Hyland beat us on his own in the 2019 U-20 final.

    I’d like to see Carney tried at FF- put ROD in the corner and Towey deserves another chance the next day but in the corner also.

  2. Spotlight

    Does Carney play full forward for Kilmeena ? I thought he was a midfielder playing at half forward ? He could be a good option there if so, but from what ive seen to date he would slot in well in the middle third.

    I dont see how Towey deserves a start in the corner over Aidan Orme, he hasnt shown enough to be involved in the 26 come championship he was given 2 starts and taken off at half time both times. I think another year S&C will stand to him and he will breakthrough in 2023.

  3. Its absolutely ludicrous to be in any frame of mind about not wanting to get to a league final.

    Get a strong team out, plough on and go a win the game as all players were coached to do as young lads. Deal with whatever comes as it comes, stop the ifs and buts!

    Hard ground, fine weather, no wind. Get our boys bombing from the back as usual, mix it up now and again by getting the big lad in at 14 and lorry ball in on top of him, cause carnage, bang a few goals, game over after 45mins. Move onto Kerry….Simples!

  4. Agree fully with Kierans post. League finals don’t come around too much for us. AOS must play full forward and get proper ball in to him. We need a target man in there. I found myself agreeing with Kevin McStay which did not add to my happiness. Stop the silly tactics of putting him in defence.Maybe they are planning to put him on Comer for the Galway game. Managers nowadays think they have to come up with a grand plan when they should do a Jim Gavin on it and stick to the process. Come to think of it do we have a process.
    Stephen Coen lacks pace and is not performing so he needs to drop out of the match day squad for a bit. We have plenty of depth in the squad thankfully.

  5. Interesting to hear Billy Joe on OTB radio say that for the Galway match Aido could be picked to start nominally at half forward but with him playing as a third midfielder, essentially repeating his role so far this league from the bench. I think Billy Joe is seeing this possibility as a positive given, as he indicates, the enormity of the Galway match and the importance of having the big 3 at midfield (Aido, Mattie, Jordon). Could this be a pattern for the rest of Championship? It wouldn’t surprise me, especially if our half forward rotation continues to disappointment. So why not have driving power from the middle. Watch this space.

    Aido mightn’t be a scorer but from what I’ve seen so far this league I’d rather have him driving at a defence and punching holes rather than the scoreless forwards we’ve tried, who lack aggression and physicality and make poor choices on the ball.

    I wouldn’t have said this at the start of the league, instead preferring he was kept as an impact sub. But unfortunately no forward has put their hand up, despite Horan given ample golden opportunities. So maybe Aido deserves his starting place above all the other half forward options. One obvious caveat: Diarmuid o’connor remains at 11. This is where tactics will come into it, ie a clear game plan of how best to use Aido without sacrificing other aspects that have gone well for us especially earlier in the league, ie fast, direct ball, and Diarmuid directing proceedings at centre forward.

  6. TommieK

    I think it’s worth a try- we need to try a few things up front and he’d be quicker than AOS.

    Wouldn’t worry about actual club positions- Beggan of Monsghan and of course Vluxton play outfield.

    Here’s a question- what’s Mullins best position?

    As for Towey, I watched the game back and he did get on some ball and made an effort in difficult circumstances- he deserves more opportunities. You have to give fellas a chance and there was a lot of under performers last week.

    Lest we forget how Colm Boyle blossomed after a poor start at inter-county level!

  7. Liberal role in the tie that could well be the role Aido plays against Galway but the major worry i would have is Joyce will definitely put Sean Kelly on Aido if he plays anywhere in the middle third and be instructed to run hard at Mayo all day and by Aido dropping off from centre forward to midfield that leaves him free to do it. Kelly is at this stage nearly Galways key man.Another problem with Aido dropping back from centre forward an interesting observation James O Donoghue made on the football pod in relation to Aido doing just that against Kerry actually benefitted Kerry as it allowed there centre back Morley drop back in front of our FF line especicially ROD

  8. Blondie11 I feel exactly the same & that’s my fear also that Kelly will tag Aido. If Kelly is left free to roam, he could destroy us. He’s turned into a terrific player

  9. Sean Kelly is a fantastic player and IMO a more important player for Galway than Walsh, he is the difference between them being an average back 6 and a good back 6. I think he will be tasked to pick up mattie because im not sure has conroy or tierney the mobility to track him when on the back foot.

  10. Doesn’t it say so much that in the coments above, we are still shifting AOS around the pitch from a 6 to an 8 or 9, to a withdrawn 11, or even inside at 14? Says alot that he cannot nail down a position of his own.
    As I said in a post a few days ago, it’s apparant that come hell or high water, good form or poor, that AOS is starting and playing entire games.

  11. I’d have Aiden as an impact sub … He’s best quality at the moment is tackling/ turn overs … He did OK the last day at 6 but we have better half backs than him . Nothing personal against the great man but he can be exposed in the forwards due to lack of pace and he ( like some other forwards) don’t add much to the scoreboard.

  12. I see what you mean Blondie11. To offset that though I’d have him playing more offensively, himself and Diarmuid linking and breaking the line, ably aided by our raiding half backs.

    The whole ‘where to play Aido’ debate is a polarising one alright. Maybe it’s unsettling to the team overall.

  13. Aido has still a lot to offer as he has done in the past but with his size, good distribution from the basketball and his lack of pace there is no debate but that he must play at FF. Then the right ball must go in. Here’s the problem nowadays with footballers that they are so programmed into recycling that they cannot kick it in. The Greens must love the modern day player.
    I was in Clones a few years ago for Tyrone v Donegal and Michael Murphy was one on one a number of times with the Tyrone full back but not once did they send the ball in directly. If a team has the right type of player to play as target man he has to be used.
    With our injuries it’s not that we have an abundance of forwards. Aido gives us more options up front.

  14. Sticks for the Reek, I agree. If we are to think back at AOSs most memorable games they have been when he has been left inside as a FF and good, direct, diagonal ball played into him. I remember a Connaught game v Sligo where O’Shea got 3 goals, all from direct ball inside to him where he bullied a young and callow full back. A couple of years ago he destroyed O’Ceallaigh at full back when we beat Galway also. Even in last years AIF when he was left inside for a while he won the 3 balls that went into him. He missed a mark effort off the post, had a goal bound effort saved and recycled the other possession he got. OK, it’s off a limited sample size but he was still 100% effective when the right ball was played into him.
    I wouldn’t be surprised to see him picking up Flynn the next day v Kildare either. In a similar role to that he played v Donaghy in 2017.

  15. Our dependency on one player will haunt us – its destroying Monaghan and Donegal. Quick balls into quick thinking forwards and half forwards is the way to go. Accuracy from our forwards needs to become better than the average 37% – its just not good enough. We know the lads are fit, toned and can run – they need to be able to take scores. It was easy to see last Saturday night that there was that extra yard or two that could have been used to increasing the scoring option. I was disappointed that I did not see anyone apart from Ryan O’ put his hand up, take responsability and at least try to score. We really shouldn’t be still having the same conversation about our forwards. I like to be positive and hope all this is part of JH’s grand plan for April to confuse other managers.

  16. From the 2018 U20 AI final seven of those Kildare players have become established seniors, namely Aaron O’Neill;Tony Archbold,, Daragh Ryan;Paddy Woodgate, Jimmy Hyland,Brian McLoughlin and Aaron Masterson

    As for Mayo just three has become established seniors Jordan Flynn;Ryan O’Donoghue, Tommy Conroy. Oisin Mullen would have been another but missed the final through injury.

  17. Mayomagic – take 2 years earlier and 7 of our 2016 u21 all ireland team have established themselves as senior inter county players (8 if you include eoin o`donaghue).

    From our 2019 u20 team 6 of these are now established senior players.

    From our 2020 u20 team 8 of these are now established senior players (some played both 2019 and 2020).

    We also have 4 players involved in our panel who are still in the U20 grade (McHugh, Callinan, Irwin, Heneghan).

  18. I agree the dependancy on ROD is worrying. I would be confident Orme can make the grade and a return to form for Doherty next weekend would be most welcome. If you take Fenton as a yardstick for midfielder, where is Jordan Flynn?
    Getting there imo nut more to do to become a matchwinner. And if you take Kiernan Kilkenny as a yardstick in HF line, onle DOC stacks up.
    We have a problem with guys taken on shots but we need returns from those shots too.
    i have no doubt performance against Tyrone came in for tough analysis.
    There is often ‘bounce back’ after a poor performance and I expect we will see it this weekend.
    A league final and a crack at Kerry are huge stakes.

  19. I can’t believe we are back again debating where AOS starts, like it’s a formality he should be starting, the very fact he has now been tried at 3,6,8,11 and 14 should be enough evidence we are still no closer to deciding how to shoehorn him in. I seen nothing in the last 2 games that warrants him starting

    His appearances off the bench in this league have been effective in helping the final push to the line, thats the role he should continue with. Imagine the game is in the melting pot v Galway
    After 50 minutes and AOS arrives onto the field. Would be some lift. If as others have proposed he starts at no 11 on Sean kelly he will be eaten alive

    Must say I’m a bit worried by Kevin mcloughlins form too, he has been one kf my favourite players of the last decade and always offered creativity and something different for mayo but he has been extremely poor in the league. Time waits for no man but he is definitely not a starting option on current form either

  20. I align with the view of trying AOS in full forward again, especially in the absence of Cillian. Considering we have clearly been working on kicking long ball into the forwards and with many who are well able to pick out a pass (DOC, ROD, Flynn) it is worth trying again. If the right ball goes in Aidan could cause a lot of damage to any team…

  21. Agree a lot with Supermac. AOS is contributing to us winning matches but far more effective off the bench. Much more focussed on the job he needs to do. Kev Mac played poorly last weekend, but he can bounce back too as he has in the past. Towey a live prospect for a starting position. Posters may be expecting too much too soon of Carney, but he is sub material.
    Kildare will be chomping on the bit to get at us. Great game in prospect. KM is usually right.. Not at easy injury to come back from, such bad luck

  22. I see a number of u18 games scheduled for 12pm on Sunday including regional finals. Is this seriously happening with Mayo playing at 1.45 in Carrick on Shannon. Match not even live on TV.

  23. Imagine Kerry losing Clifford and o se .

    Galway losing Walsh and conroy .

    Dublin losing dean rock and con o Callaghan .

    What we lose to injury is phenomenal. Right back to Andy in 2012 . Christ we even had a clash of heads in 14 v Kerry that probably contributed to our loss as much as that thing with the whistle that day .

  24. Think Towey deserves another run out on Sunday. He is improving and getting stronger week on week. Plus he’s an option for frees if ROD isn’t on the pitch. Given the lack of scoring in the both lines of the forwards, I think he’s a viable option. Shame he hasn’t had the guile of o connor and dynamism of conroy to help him bed into his role.

  25. Just a reminder that this isn’t the place to be ventilating unconfirmed stories about players. I’d ask everyone to respect a rule that has, thank the Good Lord, prevented this place from becoming Mayo GAA Rumour HQ down the years.

    I’d also like to acknowledge with thanks the comment from Be Kind, which I endorse fully. There’s been too much dissing of named players on here of late so I would ask everyone to have a read of this comment and reflect on it before commenting further on the perceived shortcomings of individual players.

  26. Saw Tommy Conroy in Galway city this afternoon and he is already off the knee brace. Is that normal after six weeks?

  27. @quayman – yes it can normal to be out of a brace from around 4 weeks after surgery and there is a good chance he will be running in straight lines in the next few weeks / months.

    The slow part with an injury like that is breaking off into angles and twisting and turning.

  28. ”Be Kind” Your post is excellent. I would advise all contributors to this Forum to have a read and think about some of the comments many of the fans ( not all) have written about the players and management especially after the 2021 AIF

  29. The great David Brady on Mid-West – Darren Coen gives us a physical presence, hard to Knock off the ball, good distribution and long range points.

  30. Just so I am clear WJ, is critical tactical analysis of a players strengths and weaknesses considered “dissing” a player?

  31. It’s not, Pebblesmeller – measured criticism of individual players has always been okay on the blog and there’s been plenty of commentary along those lines down the years.

    It would always, of course, be preferable if those who take it upon themselves to criticise a named player might also give some thought to the qualities that got that player on the panel in the first place. It’s all too rare that this happens, I’d have to say.

    What I’ve always kicked back against most is the usual lazy stuff where people opine that a player’s chance has gone or that he isn’t good enough or anything else in that vein, which by its nature, is so general as to be completely meaningless. I also think people posting need to have a bit of perspective – we’re all outside the tent and our knowledge of what goes on inside it is no more than partial (if that) which means that pronouncements about what should and should not be happening are all, to some extent, coming from a less than fully informed position.

    Overall, I should stress that the commentary posted here down the years (15 in all now) has been, for the most part, fair and there tends to be a decent exchange of views. (For example, Conor Loftus attracted a bit of heat of late but there were as many pointing out his admirable qualities as there were his perceived shortcomings). The tenor here is also in marked contrast to the often vicious online musings you come across on social media from people who laughably portray themselves as Mayo supporters but who are, in reality, nothing of the sort.

  32. 1. Rory Byrne – Ruairi O Broin – Castlebar Mitchels

    2. Lee Keegan – Laoi MacAogáin – Westport

    3. David McBrien – Dáithí Mac Briain – Ballaghadereen

    4. Padraig O’Hora – Pádraig O’hOra – Ballina Stephenites

    5. Oisín Mullin – Oisín Ó’Maoláin – Kilmaine

    6. Aidan O’Shea – Aodhán O’Se – Breaffy

    7. Stephen Coen © – Stiofáin O’Cadhain – Hollymount/Carramore

    8. Jordan Flynn – Siuirtán Floinn – Crossmolina Deel Rovers

    9. Matthew Ruane – Maitiú Ó Ruáin – Breaffy

    10. Conor Loftus – Conchur O’Lachtnáin – Crossmolina Deel Rovers

    11. Jack Carney – Sean O’Cearnaigh – Kilmeena

    12. Fergal Boland – Fearghal Ó’Beolláin – Aghamore

    13. Aiden Orme – Aodhán Orme – Knockmore

    14. Jason Doherty – Séasáon Dochartaigh – Burrishoole

    15. Ryan O’Donoghue – Riain O’Donnachadh – Beal a Mhuirthead


    16. Colm Reape – Coilm O Reabaigh – Knockmore

    17. Brendan Harrison – Breandan Ó Hearchaí – Aghamore

    18. Paddy Durcan – Padraig Ó Durcáin – Castlebar Mitchels

    19. Michael Plunkett – Micheal Pluinceid – Ballintubber

    20. Rory Brickenden – Ruairí Brickenden – Westport

    21. Enda Hession – Éanna Ó hOisín – Garrymore

    22. Kevin McLoughlin – Caoimhín MacLochlainn – Knockmore

    23. Conor O’ Shea – Conchur O’Se – Breaffy

    24. James Carr – Seamus Mac Giolla Cheara – Ardagh

    25. Paul Towey – Pol Tuathaigh– Charlestown

    26. Darren Coen – Darán Ó Cadhain – Hollymount Carram

  33. Thanks Horan’s Brigade

    Great to see James Carr back. I know we have usually started with the team named but i cant see Aidan starting at 6 again this week. If there is one week for James to name a dummy team this is it.

    I like the look of that half forward line, hopefully Diarmuid and Robbie are back soon as both will be needed for the Galway game.

    More minutes for David McBrien, Oisin, Boland, Carney, Jason and Aiden Orme is important so overall i am happy with the selection.

  34. Considering the injuries that the strongest team we could name and a strong enough subs bench.I think we have our answer now as to whether Horan wants to get to league final or not.

    Great to see Carr back in the 26.

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