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Friday 15 December 2017

Far too early to write Lilywhites out of promotion picture

Former Kildare footballer Dermot Earley
Former Kildare footballer Dermot Earley

FOR those present in Newbridge for both games, the similarities were almost spooky.

Eleven months to the day after Kildare contrived to blow a five-point injury-time lead over Tyrone in St Conleth's Park in Division 1 of the League by conceding two goals and thus, losing by a point, they contrived to blow a three-point injury-time lead over Down in St Conleth's Park in Division 2 of the League by conceding 2-1 and losing by three points.

There, followers of Kildare must dearly, desperately hope, the sameness of the days end.

Because having started their 2014 campaign, Jason Ryan's first as manager, with a win over Mayo and a one-point defeat to Cork in Páirc Uí Rinn, Kildare's encore from the Tyrone debacle was a mini series of disaster.

chastising

Dublin (10 points), Kerry (six) and Derry (five) all handed out chastising defeats.

Dermot Earley was present on both days as a bemused spectator.

The Tyrone loss, he reflects, "hurt the boys and you can question yourself a little bit.It took a huge amount (out of the team)," Earley notes.

"They had that game won and let them in for two late goals.

"The thing is, it has happened twice in Newbridge."

Though he adds: "I'd rather is happen earlier than later on (in the season). We're going to see how mentally tough they are."

Having kept a Dublin team with a noted fetish for green flags goal-less in this year's O'Byrne Cup final, plenty present noted how Kildare had adopted a more populated defensive approach.

As it happened, Ryan had, along with Kieran McGeeney, Paul Geaney and Seamus O'Shea, attended the media launch of the Allianz Leagues in Croke Park just five days before the Down game.

And, as it also happened, he was the designated interviewee for the attendant Sunday newspaper journalists.

So on that the morning of the Down game, a headline in one Sunday publication ran: ''Building from a solid base - Jason Ryan looks to have solved Lilywhite's defensive issues'.

"I think it is just down to a concentration thing," says Earley by way of explaining lightening striking twice.

"Also they had the chance to put both games away," he notes.

"We missed a penalty with ten or 20 minutes gone against Down when they were up and it's about making sure you don't just scrape by that you are that little bit ruthless .

"Maybe that's something Kildare haven't had in the past and that's something they can improve on."

They defended well in Navan a week later but Meath defended better and the 0-13 to 0-11 win for the Royals seemed merely the continuation of a recent habitual superiority over their neighbours, rather than a post Down hangover.

important

"The chance isn't gone," insists Earley of Kildare's belated promotion push, beginning with Sunday's home clash with Westmeath.

"We can win the remaining five games and get back up but certainly those two games were very important to get that ball rolling.

"So it will be interesting to see how they react because other county teams do use those weeks to push on and Kildare haven't in the past," he says.

"We realise we needed to get back into Division One," Earley adds. "That's where you want to be."

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