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Monday 18 December 2017

Kildare need a 'cut-throat' mentality to avoid drop

Kildare's Aindria Mac Lochlainn leaves the pitch after the game with his daughter Ella May
Kildare's Aindria Mac Lochlainn leaves the pitch after the game with his daughter Ella May

ANDRIÚ Mac LOCHLAINN surveys the wreckage of Kildare's already-doomed quest for promotion and concludes that they need to "get a bit more cut-throat".

It wasn't meant to be this way ... at the start of February, Jason Ryan's men were installed as 10/3 favourites to claim the Division Two crown and, with that, an instant return to the top-flight.

Three defeats later, two in Newbridge, they are staring at the alternative appalling vista: Division Three.

Mac Lochlainn, the now-retired defensive stalwart, has been watching former colleagues in his role as a local radio commentator and newspaper columnist. He appreciates the influx of youth that has altered the panel's make-up over the past few seasons, but still reckons there's sufficient experience available. "It's time they took a stand," he reasons.

It's not that the performances have been uniformly grim. Against Down they blew a three-point lead by coughing up 2-1 in the dying minutes. Their second half fadeout from a winning position against Meath was less spectacular but equally painful - whereas last Sunday's home defeat to Westmeath was surely their worst, performance-wise, to date.

POSITIVE

For all the positive talk emanating from the camp, Mac Lochlainn points out that "their body language in the first half (against Westmeath) didn't really display that. They made a lot of simple errors. On bad days like that, we used to always speak in the dressing-room about focussing on winning clean ball, winning your own patch, securing possession, then getting runners off the shoulder.

"It's an energy-sapping workrate that you need, but that's the National League for you at this time of the year. It's not going to be pretty."

The Ellistown man expands: "I'm not in the circle but if they hadn't got their sights set on promotion this year, I would be disappointed. Now that's not a reality; now they need to rearrange that goal.

"The ultimate goal for the league is to stay in that division, but the short-term goal is to get two points on the board against Cavan. Get a result. Get a performance.

"Worse case scenario, if they played very well, fought to the bitter end but Cavan came out on top - you could say there's progression there."

Mac Lochlainn had hoped the O'Byrne Cup final display against Dublin, eventually losing in extra-time, marked a "turning point" after a 2014 campaign devoid of consistency. Now he's not so sure.

"It would be a big ask for them to say their goal is to win Leinster - but that would have to be their goal, because winning an All-Ireland is too far beyond them," he concedes.

"I think Kildare people would be quite happy if they reached a Leinster final and had a good performance and then moved forward in the qualifiers; that would be as much as could be expected this year."

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