Kildare aren’t a county we’ve met all that much down the years and so there’s no real kind of rivalry between us. They do, of course, have a Dermot Earley playing for them but not in the primrose and blue so it’s difficult to get agitated about seeing even this iconic moniker within the opposition’s ranks. In addition, we’ve no recent championship history with Kildare; indeed, I’m not sure that we even have any ancient history either so I think it’s fair to conclude that, in footballing terms, we’re pretty indifferent to each other’s existence.
Although it looked for a while on the final day of last year’s league fixtures that we were heading for a semi-final meeting with them, Kildare’s failure to beat Laois that day (I was at that game in Newbridge, as it happens – here’s a video clip from late on in the game to prove it) meant that they got paired with Donegal while we ended up with our dear, sweet neighbours. We did get to share quite an empty Croke Park on semi-final day with them but, unlike ourselves, they had the good sense to lose their semi-final match to Donegal, while we had to wait until the final the following Sunday to do this.
We did, of course, play the Lilywhites in a challenge match last May up at their gaff, where we won by 0-18 to 0-12. David Brady made his comeback from injury that day and it was also one of the first times (though not the first – this was) that BJP was deployed at full-back.
In terms of competitive fixtures with the Short Grass County, we need to head to the archives (which, as you’ll see, are continuing to expand backwards: I’ve reached, and completed, 1995 now). The records show that it’s five years since we last kicked ball in anger against Kildare and that, since 1998, we’ve met them four times in the league (all in Division 1B), winning three and losing one of these encounters.
Our most recent meeting took place in Ballina back in March 2003, where we emerged with a 0-12 to 0-9 win. Of the current squad, Pat Kelly, David Heaney, James Gill, Alan Dillon and the two Morts featured that day. Maurice Sheridan was still knocking over the frees then and he ended up with five points, while young Mort (he really was young then) got three. That match saw the three Morts on the field together, with Kenneth in his customary corner-back place, Conor at corner-forward and Trevor coming on as a second-half sub for Fergal Kelly.
We also met them in March the previous year and this was also the last time we played in Newbridge. We won that one by 4-5 to 0-7, a match that was noteworthy for the fact that Marty Mac banged in 3-1. Of the current squad, only David Clarke, James Gill, Trevor and David Heaney (who came on as a sub) were in action that day.
Further back, we met in McHale Park in late December 1999 where we came out on top by 1-10 to 0-10. Kevin O’Neill was our leading scorer that day (see – he did appear the odd time between 1993 and 2006) and even Super Mac was on the first fifteen as well (contributing two points). From the current set-up, Aidan Higgins, David Heaney and James Gill (sub) all featured in the colours that day.
The previous year – all of ten years ago – was when Kildare recorded their most recent win against us. This match took place in late November 1998 and the beaten All-Ireland finallists of that year ran out winners in Newbridge by 2-11 to 1-9. Maurice Sheridan got five points, all from placed balls, and James Nallen – lining out at no.10 – scored the goal. Jimmy Nallen in the forwards? No wonder they beat us!