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Seánie draws a line under saga

SEANIE JOHNSTON spoke of his 2012 travails publically for the first time yesterday, drawing a line under his excruciating transfer saga just minutes after producing a man of the match performance in his first competitive start for Kildare in Tullamore.

"Ah ... it was probably hard in the fact that I wasn't talking about it and everyone else seemed to be talking about it," Johnston reflected when asked how the rigmarole had affected him personally.

"A lot of that stuff is out of your control and you can only control what you can actually do and what you can actually control, so it's difficult to control what other people do.

"People have their opinions and again, I can't control that. You just have to keep working hard and knuckle down and hopefully good things will come and all you can do is try your best and hopefully, you will get out of it what you put in."

Johnston's display put him firmly in the frame for a league start when Kildare open their Allianz League Division 1 campaign against Donegal in Croke Park on February 2 and he is likely to play some part next Saturday when Kieran McGeeney's men visit Parnell Park for the O'Byrne Cup Final against Dublin.

All this, just days after resuming full training following a calf injury which forced him to miss most of Kildare's pre-season grind.

"I had the bit of an injury, so it was good to get back playing football, good to get the start, and good to get the game coming up to the National League," he explained. "Everyone is hungry to play football."

Johnston's seven points (three from play) aligned with Tomás O'Connor's ball-winning acumen alongside made the pair seem a natural fit in an area where Kildare have struggled to nail down a consistent, prolific pairing.

"It's always great to play beside good players," Johnston agreed. "Tomás is a brilliant player and he has got a lot of excellent attributes, his handling and that. He's very strong and it's always good to play in beside good players and always makes the game much easier.

"It's not really hard to integrate with those lads. They are not just good footballers they are good people, very welcoming, very friendly and it's not that hard to integrate when they make you feel welcome and I have to thank them. It's only early... hopefully, I get a good run at it this year and we'll see how we go."

Somewhat modestly, Johnston put his prolific tally down to the service he and his inside colleagues enjoyed from further out the pitch but his form, regardless of fitness, was a major plus for McGeeney.

He admitted afterwards, though, that next Saturday night in Parnell Park will be a much sterner examination of Kildare's Division 1 pedigree.

"Sure there was some good reliable ball coming in from the lads," he demurred.

"But it's Dublin next, and it will be good to play them, good to get another game, before the league starts.

"Dublin will be a good step up, and good preparation for playing Donegal. Dublin are one of the best teams in the country. Offaly did give a very good test, but this will be another step up."