Tuesday 21 November 2017

McGeeney to audition against Dublin aftershrugging off Faithful flops

IF Offaly didn't want to play Dublin they should have just said so and done a Kilkenny by withdrawing, rather than putting in such a helpless effort as this when being totally outclassed, 0-17 to 0-4, by Kildare in Newbridge yesterday.

Regardless of the fact that we are only in January, it's pre-season fare and Kildare are four years ahead of Offaly in terms of conditioning, fitness and game plan, this was abject by the Faithful.

They were miles off the pace in all departments, failing to score in the first half and having few opportunities -- they kicked just two wides.

Gerry Cooney is a recent appointment as manager, of course, after the terribly prolonged process to find Tom Cribben's replacement, and he will expect that there will be a fairly significant improvement once he gets to grips with his new charges. Or hope so anyway.

As for Kildare, they will have no compunctions about crossing swords with the All-Ireland champions -- as the sides meet in next Sunday's Bord na Móna O'Byrne Cup semi-final in Newbridge (2.0).

Kieran McGeeney knows that what happens next Sunday isn't hugely important in the big scheme of things but it's a good test for some of the fringe players, who are looking to become major protagonists. "They'll be fit and strong" the Kildare manager said about Dublin. "One thing Pat (Gilroy) has at his disposal is a strong panel.

"Hopefully it'll fill this place and there'll be a bit of an atmosphere.

"If I thought next week's performance was going to determine our whole year we'd be going flat out and we're not.

"But you are looking to see individuals and what they give. Pat will be doing the same.

"What you find at this time of year is that fellas who are looking to break onto the squad tend to play better than those that are already on the squad.

"There's more at stake for them. When you put out your so-called first team sometimes, you don't get the same performance.

"I think Pat's seeing that and we're seeing that here.

"What I'm looking for next week is fellas putting in performances," added McGeeney.


Certainly, Tommy O'Neill and Tommy Moolick provided them yesterday, as did James Kavanagh, Ollie Lyons and Alan Smith. Rob Kelly and Hugh McGrillen made their first appearances in much less intense conditions than they would find in mid-week training.

Kildare led by 0-10 to 0-0 at half time and though William Mulhall got Offaly off the mark 27 seconds into the second half, the visitors could never get to grips with their vastly superior opponents.

But just as next week won't mean a whole lot, nobody will be harking back to this game when Offaly and Kildare collide in the Leinster senior championship next June.

"Football, as we all know, is a funny game. Things didn't' bounce for them. Last week, they scored (3-6)," said McGeeney. "If you think that's the way Offaly will perform come the championship we'd all be very silly.

"They'll learn more from today than we did," concluded the Kildare manager and former Armagh All-Ireland-winning captain.

They'll most certainly need to.

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