After a break of a week and with Glen Ryan and Tommy Carew safely installed as our ’90s and ’70’s winners we look back to the relatively recent past with this week’s poll.
While a couple of the contenders were obvious this time, narrowing it down to four was the most difficult task so far.
It was a strange decade in the sense that we almost went through four different eras with four Leinster Final appearances (five if you count replays).
The tail end of the Mick O’Dwyer era saw arguably Kildare’s most dramatic and rewarding of victories in the first year of the decade. Beating Meath in 1998 of course is hard to match after such a long gap without success but the manner of the 2000 replay win over the old enemy Dublin was special.
Two years later we effectively saw O’Dwyer’s era end as we went down to the Dubs in a pulsating final in which we played a big part.
A year later O’Dwyer had moved onto Laois and of course the writing was on the wall as he brought the midlanders to a glorious final appearance against… us. We now had Pauric Nolan at the helm. Refereeing decisions went against us (being kind) and defeat signalled a dramatic down-turn in the mid-noughties. We seemed unable to buy a win of any significance under first Nolan and then for two years under John Crofton.
Enter Kieran McGeeney and the upswing that would only reach it’s peak in 2010/11. But what a year 2009 was as well with James Kavanagh and Alan Smith lighting up venues across Leinster with their goal scoring and going toe to toe with the Dubs once more in our first Leinster Final for 6 years. Despite racking up all our scores from play we came up short again though and were left to rue some poor defending for their two goals.
We had contenders across all of those eras but three of our shortlist were there through the whole decade. We’ve gone for marksman in chief Johnny Doyle and inspirational midfielder Dermot Earley alongside Anthony Rainbow, an All Star in 2000 and one of our top performers in those finals at the start of the decade. Remarkable that Rainbow was also a contender in the ’90’s poll having played through two full decades in a Kildare jersey.
The fourth shortlisted player is goalscoring corner-forward Tadgh Fennin who notched three goals against the Dubs in those 2000 and 2002 finals.
Lots of other contenders came close: Ronan Sweeney was another who was there the whole decade, though often sprung the bench. Fellow current selector Enda Murphy was solid if unspectacular between the posts. Andriu MacLochlainn was doggedness personified in the man-marking corner back role. Mick Foley in the latter part of the decade was our strong-man at the back. Killian Brennan deserves a mention as a hard-working midfielder who had the mis-fortune in many ways to be at his peak when the team patently wasn’t. Eamon Callaghan, Paudie O’Neill.. the list continues.
Apologies for the short write-up for this one but not a lot of time available at the moment.
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It's Week 3 of our Kildare Player of the Decade polls and this time it's the Noughties (2000-2009), a decade when Kildare won Leinster and lost in finals in 3 other years at both ends of the decade. The in-between years were grim. Difficult again to narrow to four:
— Kildaregaa365 (@kildaregaa365) December 30, 2017