O'Neill: Lilies must up game to catch dubs
New boss says gap between Kildare and top teams is 'quite significant.'
New Kildare manager Cian O'Neill believes "it's up to the rest of the teams in Leinster [SFC] to bring their own games up to a higher level," in a bid to end Dublin's dominance of the tournament.
O'Neill, who was officially unveiled in the role last night, was part of the Kerry management team who were beaten by Dublin in this year's All-Ireland final and who, prior to that, annihilated the Lilywhites in the All-Ireland quarter-final, a defeat that brought an miserable end to Jason Ryan's time in charge.
"The more you worry about Dublin, the less time you're focusing on your own situation," O'Neill said.
"It's up to the other counties to bring their game to a whole new level.
"If you start worrying about the opposition too much, which unfortunately from a tactical perspective has really become a mainstay of the modern game, I think it will affect your mindset.
"As a player, you're almost beaten before you take to the pitch against them.
"It would be a great challenge and would certainly give us an indication of how far they've travelled from this year. It's a mighty challenge for anyone who will face the Dubs."
O'Neill will begin his stint with Kildare having sunk to Division 3 of the League after successive spring relegations and in light of the twin Championship defeats to Dublin (19 points) and Kerry (27), he concedes "the gap is quite significant," between his new charges as the perennial All-Ireland contenders.
"That's not just with Kildare. I think the gap is quite significant between Kerry, Dublin, Mayo and the rest.
"I would almost look at it as three tiers, some people might say four.
"You'd have those three, then you'd have the likes of Tyrone, Donegal, Cork who are probably that little bit slightly off it at the moment, but who have all challenged in recent years.
"I think it's quite a drop then to the rest, that's my own personal thoughts on it, and I'm aware of saying that as a Kildare manager but I'm realistic of the challenge that's faced in front of me as well."
O'Neill added that he hoped all of last year's squad would make themselves available again, as would those who left mid-season.
He also left the door open for AFL recruits, Seán Hurley and Paddy Brophy, were they to decided to return to Kildare at any stage in the near future.
"I'm not aware of anyone that's definitely ruled out and that includes the two boys in Australia, Paddy and Seán, simply because I haven't sat down with them and they are both doing well.
"It is worth a conversation with each and every person," O'Neill concluded.
"As of yet no one has spoken of retirements or tours of duty."