Friday 21 October 2016

Lilywhites' expectations really don't stack up: O'Neill

Cian O'Neill Kildare football manager Cian O’Neill. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Cian O'Neill Kildare football manager Cian O’Neill. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Cian O'Neill is fighting a local battle on a couple of fronts.

Firstly, he's trying to temper expectations in Kildare within a support base notoriously demanding of their team.

"It always struck me from afar as a Kildare man, it's quite bizarre the notion in Kildare that you should be winning every year when there's absolutely no evidence to point to the fact as to why that might be," O'Neill mused ahead of Sunday's Leinster semi-final with Westmeath.


"Then you look at the data you have to wonder.

"But yet every year there's a lot of 'this is our year, this is our year'.

"And you see something similar in Mayo but the difference is they're winning provincials year in year out, you accept that.

"I just think they're a great support base because they love their football, and they've always loved their football. And it's hard to let go as a fan when you see potential and so many near misses.

"I think you need to win silverware for the supporters and the players and for the young fellas and girls coming through," he added.

"It is relentless, I've heard a lot, I've listened to a lot, I've read a lot, not all very complimentary but you know a lot of things need to happen to win big championships and one of those is luck, apart from the obvious resources, players,management and that type of thing. But we're doing our best, that's all I can assure people."

The other battle O'Neill is currently fighting is the hard-sell of implementing a style of football which may not yield immediate results or, for that matter, an aesthetically pleasing game.

"I heard a frightening statistic that in Kildare's last three (Championship) games at Croke Park they conceded 14-51," he reasoned, after the new Kildare conceded just eight points to Wexford in their first Championship visit to Croke Park since giving up seven goals to Kerry last August.

"From talking to players even in the build-up it's never been referenced, or the last game there. It's just not something we felt we needed to.

"It was a fresh start for players, management and backroom team alike.

"We talked about it since and we have moved on from it," added O'Neill.

"It's a mindset that can quickly spread from one or two players to seven or eight players.

"No more than when you get momentum, when one player does a brilliant feat on the pitch like a block or a 'keeper saves a penalty, the whole team rises from it so it can work the other way as well.

"That's definitely something that can happen us.

"It was always part of a plan in terms of not playing the same in championship as in league. The players knew that, they actually talked quite freely about it."

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