herald

Sunday 25 August 2019

Inconsistent kink a Kildare killer

Kildare manager Cian O'Neill
Kildare manager Cian O'Neill

Cian O'Neill could never be accused of publicly ignoring the greatest problem with his Kildare team. They are the kings of inconsistency.

Reflecting on last Sunday's madcap deadlock, O'Neill said: "We went four points up, then almost for 10 minutes we fell asleep. It's very much a mixed bag. Consistency is my job. I'm the manager."

Yet it keeps happening. Based on the above, the boss blames himself but his players are not immune either.

Maybe it's simply part of their footballing DNA. After all, Kildare's penchant for failing to close out eminently winnable games long predates O'Neill's arrival. But it has become more of a problem this season. Consider some of their second-half fade-outs during the league.

They managed just one converted free in Navan as they went from five up to lose by one. Even in victory, they lost their way: a nine-point margin against Clare, whittled down to three before they won by six; then from nine up to level with Tipp before they pulled through.

New summer, same old story. Seven up against Wicklow, held on nervously by two. Seven up against Longford after 42 minutes, saved by a shaking upright at the very end of normal time.

It was curious that Kildare started both halves, and the first half of extra-time, with a flurry of unanswered points before the old failing returned.

In mitigation, they would have won but for several squandered goal chances. It's equally apparent that, minus Daniel Flynn and Paul Cribbin, they aren't the same attacking force compared to last year.

But while Longford's defiance, the influence of Michael Quinn and the finishing of Daniel Mimnagh and James McGivney offer hope to the underdog, perhaps their best chance will be Kildare's own tendency to never quite finish the job.

ODDS: Kildare 8/15 Draw 15/2 Longford 15/8

VERDICT: Kildare

LEINSTER SFC Q-F REPLAY

KILDARE v LONGFORD

Tullamore (Tomorrow, 3.0)

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