WIDES COST US: CHRISTIE
Dublin rue their early missed chances
IT proved an afternoon of missed chances at Croke Park last Sunday as Dublin's minors exited the Electric Ireland Leinster MFC when succumbing to Kildare by 3-16 to 3-13 in the provincial semi-final.
A wide tally of 13 for Dublin in contrast to four for their opponents was perhaps the most telling statistic on an afternoon where the Dubs enjoyed a fair share of possession but failed to reflect that on the scoreboard.
That tone was set in the initial stages as the Dubs kicked three wides inside the opening two minutes and the contrast was never more evident as when Kildare were able to take the first two point opportunities that came their way.
Reflecting on his side's defeat, Dublin manager Paddy Christie felt that the ability to kick the chances that presented themselves was ultimately the difference between the sides.
"In the first 15 minutes of the first-half, we would have thought that we were well on top and we were hugely disappointed to go in at half-time trailing by six points.
"On the basis of our performance in the first-quarter, that was very hard to take and I thought that we played very well during that period.
"I felt that we were dominant and we were going very well and of course we got the boost of that first goal but when we got our chances then to really force the nail into the coffin, we kicked a lot of wides.
"To be fair to Kildare, they kept plugging away and they got a goal which was out of nowhere really, despite being a brilliant goal and then they got a penalty which left us facing a massive challenge in the second-half.
"From that point, we were playing catch-up and unfortunately, when we attacked, we left ourselves exposed at the back and they were good enough to take advantage with their third goal, which really knocked the stuffing out of us.
"To be fair to the lads, they kept on going until the final whistle and we narrowed the gap to three at the end and we were peppering the goals looking for a bit of luck.
"However, it wasn't to be and we would regret not getting enough scores when we had the game by the scruff of the neck in the early stages.
"It wasn't that the lads tried to miss. It was just one of those things that the ball didn't go over the bar and when you get your chances, you have to take them and we just weren't clinical enough in front of goal," said Christie.
That Dublin managed to create chances and indeed post what in most circumstances would be a winning score of 3-13 can only add to Dublin's and Christie's regret and frustration.
Despite trailing by that six points at the break, there still existed a degree of optimism within the panel that Dublin could prevail if chances were consistently created but their adventure in chasing the game eventually took its toll as Kildare landed an all-important and ultimately decisive goal through Jimmy Hyland.
That goal was particularly crucial given that Dublin had recovered from a poor start to the second-half to kick three points on the bounce but with Hyland's goal, the gradient became too stiff for the Blues, a fact acknowledged by Christie.
"All we could do at half-time was reinforce the fact that they were playing well in certain passages but the wheels fell off a bit towards the end of the first-half when we conceded those two goals and a few points.
"When that happens, it is very hard to alter the complexion of the game and it's very hard to change the momentum that teams can generate.
"We knew that we could create chances against this Kildare team as the first-half proved and we said that to the fellas at the break.
"Sadly, it didn't work out that way for us and I suppose we started the second-half poorly, conceding a score from the throw-in and we didn't really get going again until Kildare had increased their lead to nine points.
"We threw caution to the wind at that stage and we managed to kick a few nice scores but as we pushed forward, we got caught by a sucker-punch of a third Kildare goal which handed them a massive cushion.
"We just left ourselves with too much to do from that point," he conceded.
What effect the availability of Kevin Callaghan, Barra McGarry and Stephen Smith would have had on the Dublin attack is difficult to quantify and the six-week break since their last competitive outing against Wexford was hardly ideal.
However, Christie was loath to use either as a contributory factor to his side's demise as he acknowledged Kildare's greater economy in front of goal as the decisive element on the day.
"Injuries have been a key part of our preparations all the way through from our first match against Offaly and we were down a few players all through the summer. It was the same on Sunday but there is no way that I would put the absence of a few lads as the reason we lost the match.
"They may have helped our cause but the reason that we lost the game was because we didn't take our chances and take advantage when we were on top while Kildare did and that is why they deserved to win the match.
"The long break probably wasn't much help but we showed no rustiness in the way that we started the game and of course, it was the same for both counties so that's certainly not an excuse for losing the game," added Christie.