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Monday 18 December 2017

Conway: Lilywhites can still win All-Ireland this year despite loss to Meath

IN Kildare, it's said that they do extremes of joy and despair better than most.

Thus, paltry and un-expectant was their following in Croke Park for the Leinster opener when, after relegation from Division 1 and renewed examination of the wisdom behind the removal of Kieran McGeeney, they outclassed their supposed bogey team, Louth.

Then, both optimism and numbers replenished for the Leinster semi-final with Meath, they flopped.

"We just had to scratch the Leinster title off the list really," says Fergal Conway, their rookie centre-back. "But we're still aiming for an All-Ireland."

ambitions

Say again? Kildare still hold genuine ambitions of winning the All-Ireland? After being blasted, bullied and bettered for long periods by a Meath team, currently being hailed as one that might only, 'put it up to Dublin' in two Sundays time?

"Yeah, definitely, 100 per cent," Conway asserts, as though it's a silly question. "You look at the Clare hurlers last year, they went through the qualifiers and won it and I suppose there's lots of other examples.

"You can get a run of games when other teams aren't playing. Momentum is a serious thing when you get it going.

"We have a great bench. In the Louth and Meath game, the lads coming in, some of them were starting in previous years and hopefully that'll stand to us.

"It's do-or-die now in every game," he admits. "Lads will be out on their feet so we'll need to make those changes and we have lots of fellas who can come in, good calibre on the bench."

Of the prevailing mood within the county, as opposed to inside the squad, Conway acknowledges: "There was a high and then a low alright. The mood is good, we're all mature lads, these things happen and you just have to pick yourself up.

attitude

"We're into the qualifiers now and in previous years Kildare had great runs in the qualifiers so it can be the start of something good. Lads know that so we just have to have the right attitude."

Whatever sort of draw Down away on Sunday represents, it's certainly not a plum one.

Conversely, if Kildare were to win, there's probably little else for them to fear this side of a return to Croke Park.

"Yeah, we have to be positive about it," Conway insists. "If we get a result there, which is going to be hard, you never know where it'll take us.

"It's going to be a tough game but that's what you want, to see where you are.

"Going to Newry will be a tough test ... I've never played there. We played there in the league last year but I was injured that day."

Nor was he a part of the McGeeney-led Kildare team who made steely qualifier runs their penchant. Before last year's disappointing slump to Tyrone in Newbridge, their backdoor exploits had yielded a 15 wins and a draw from 16 matches.

"The lads have told us it can be as good as you make it if we just keep the heads down and drive on and take it game-by-game you never know where you'll end up," explains Conway.

"Like the AlI-Ireland semi-final a few years ... lads are saying you have to move on."

He concludes: "The qualifiers are tough but they give you another chance and we have to move on."

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