herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Lilies' lesser lights to struggle against students

WHATEVER happened in the tunnel in Clones last week when some of Kildare and Monaghan's players collided at half-time in their Allianz League Division 2 match, it probably wasn't as painful as the Lilywhites dressing-room as reality sank in after the game.

The Lilies currently lie pointless at the foot of the second tier after another dispiriting defeat. That said, Kieran McGeeney's teams have always defied their billing as promotion hopefuls in his tenure -- and then promptly discarded dodgy league form to make the All-Ireland quarter-final in each of his four years in charge.

Despite a two-week league break, many felt that tonight's (7.30) refixed O'Byrne Cup decider with DCU in Portlaoise would present Kildare with the ideal platform to get back to winning ways against strong opposition.

Not so.

While there are a smattering of familiar names on their team-sheet, the XV is comprised mostly of lesser lights and junior panellists, but as selector, Niall Carew, explained, the match didn't really fit in with their schedule.



Families

"This is not us knocking the competition," he explained. "We have to look after the players in terms of giving them time off and this has been scheduled as a free weekend for the players to enjoy with their families since last month.

"I just hope that people don't think we are giving the competition or Kildare supporters 'the finger'. Because of work commitments and things like that our lads know what they are doing every single day.

"The game has been thrust upon us and we have to put out a team but we're lucky enough to have our junior team training away."

The likes of Hugh McGrillen, Mick Foley and Karl Ennis still make the Lilies a formidable prospect, but depending on how DCU's front-liners recover from their Sigerson quarter-final win on Wednesday over DIT, they could have even more established names in their ranks. The likes of Johnny Cooper and Dean Rock should be given the chance to show they can cut it against top-level opposition, but it remains to be seen whether established county men like Colm Begley, Philly McMahon and Kieran Gavin will be risked.

If they are, it could mean another defeat for Kildare.

KILDARE: R Eyres; S Bergin, H McGrillen, D Barker; K Murnaghan, M Foley, K Ennis; C Feeney, P Dunne; C McDonnell, E Callaghan, T McCann; A Smith, K Donnelly, D Lawlor.

VERDICT: DCU

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