Kildare need a 'cut-throat' mentality to avoid drop
ANDRIÚ Mac LOCHLAINN surveys the wreckage of Kildare's already-doomed quest for promotion and concludes that they need to "get a bit more cut-throat".
It wasn't meant to be this way ... at the start of February, Jason Ryan's men were installed as 10/3 favourites to claim the Division Two crown and, with that, an instant return to the top-flight.
Three defeats later, two in Newbridge, they are staring at the alternative appalling vista: Division Three.
Mac Lochlainn, the now-retired defensive stalwart, has been watching former colleagues in his role as a local radio commentator and newspaper columnist. He appreciates the influx of youth that has altered the panel's make-up over the past few seasons, but still reckons there's sufficient experience available. "It's time they took a stand," he reasons.
It's not that the performances have been uniformly grim. Against Down they blew a three-point lead by coughing up 2-1 in the dying minutes. Their second half fadeout from a winning position against Meath was less spectacular but equally painful - whereas last Sunday's home defeat to Westmeath was surely their worst, performance-wise, to date.
For all the positive talk emanating from the camp, Mac Lochlainn points out that "their body language in the first half (against Westmeath) didn't really display that. They made a lot of simple errors. On bad days like that, we used to always speak in the dressing-room about focussing on winning clean ball, winning your own patch, securing possession, then getting runners off the shoulder.
"It's an energy-sapping workrate that you need, but that's the National League for you at this time of the year. It's not going to be pretty."
The Ellistown man expands: "I'm not in the circle but if they hadn't got their sights set on promotion this year, I would be disappointed. Now that's not a reality; now they need to rearrange that goal.
"The ultimate goal for the league is to stay in that division, but the short-term goal is to get two points on the board against Cavan. Get a result. Get a performance.
"Worse case scenario, if they played very well, fought to the bitter end but Cavan came out on top - you could say there's progression there."
Mac Lochlainn had hoped the O'Byrne Cup final display against Dublin, eventually losing in extra-time, marked a "turning point" after a 2014 campaign devoid of consistency. Now he's not so sure.
"It would be a big ask for them to say their goal is to win Leinster - but that would have to be their goal, because winning an All-Ireland is too far beyond them," he concedes.
"I think Kildare people would be quite happy if they reached a Leinster final and had a good performance and then moved forward in the qualifiers; that would be as much as could be expected this year."