Rare to see your team score 0-24 and still come away un-enthused and somewhat none-the-wiser.
While the likes of UCD and DCU tend to be competitive at this level you really wonder whether it benefits anyone for the lower-ranked college teams to enter the O’Byrne Cup.
Certainly Cian O’Neill can have learned very little on his debut as Kildare manager, and while the comment might be mischievous, it’s possible he’d have been better off having a Moorefield v The Rest training match. I suspect he already knew that Adam Tyrell is a forward of real potential but there’s no question his eye for a score was the main talking point from Kildare’s fourteen point victory. Playing with a swagger not traditionally common amongst Kildare forwards, Tyrell tormented the students’ defence and kicked 0-9 in total with five of those from play, all from considerable distance. Tyrell has featured in the O’Byrne Cup before but you imagine we’ll be seeing him into the league campaign this time around.
O’Neill gave seven Moorefield a men a run out in all but on a day when few of the newcomers, returnees and fringe players really put their names in the frame, only Tyrell and to some degree Ryan Houlihan really grasped the opportunity. Wing back Houlihan had a promising half hour topped off by a fine long range point but fell foul to a black card to cut short his appearance.
It was left to three of the better known players to provide the leadership to a very experimental line up. Daniel Flynn, back from injury and deployed in midfield, seemed to be operating at a completely different pace to the the other 29 players on the pitch and scared the living daylights out of the students, scoring three points and bouncing a rasping shot off the cross bar in one of the few half chances Kildare created to raise a green flag. Eoghan O’Flaherty probed cleverly all through and was accurate with his free-taking. Indeed it was nice to see Kildare having both left and right-sided free-takers available and in form.
At the back Peter Kelly was tried in the problematic full back position and you could do without Tomas O’Connor being the opposite no.14 on such an occasion. A mature student if ever there was one. As it turned out they tended to neutralise each other and Kelly at least prevented O’Connor getting too much clean possession, although he did swing a leg at one clear-cut goal chance in the first half that inched narrowly wide. Watching Kelly and O’Connor scrap for every ball was a highlight even if it sometimes reminded you of a robber and an old lady desperately trying to wrestle a hand-bag from one another.
Other than that very few really impressed. The backs were rarely tested although Conor Madden did sneak in for a goal which kept the game alive in the middle part. Madden took ultimate advantage when Liam Healy perhaps showed his inexperience when losing his man and the flight of the ball. Jonathan Byrne was steady if unspectacular on his return to the big ball game at county level.
The full forward line was disappointing with clean possession hard to find despite the busyness of Seamus Hanafin in particular. James Eaton was well-marked all through and Fionn Dowling was unconvincing and largely peripheral at no.14. Interesting to see O’Neill having a chat with O’Connor at the end of the game. He certainly seems to be keeping doors open though the big Clane man is reported to have turned down an invite to return.
Tactically it was a case of “nothing to see here”. Kildare lined up 15 on 15 in traditional formation with no sweepers, blankets or similar modern fads. No short kick-outs or such fancy stuff either, probably wise given the heavy sod and relatively long grass which caused a few unusual bounces in general play. There is no doubt in my mind that O’Neill will have to develop a way of playing that makes the side less vulnerable to conceding big scores, particularly goals, but he obviously saw that as a task for another day down the line. Still, he’ll have been disappointed that the only goal scored yesterday was in Tom Corley’s net. Defensively Kildare’s full back line displayed again its worrying propensity to give away unnecessary frees close to goal with Ciaran Fitzpatrick the main culprit on this occasion.
So it’s on to Hawkfield and hopefully a more competitive outing against Louth (I won’t be there unfortunately so will have to rely on dispatches) on Wednesday night followed by a tasty looking trip to Tullamore next Sunday.
Line-Up, Scorers and Ratings*
- Tom Corley – Moorefield – 6
- Ciaran Fitzpatrick – Kilcock – 6
- Peter Kelly – TMH – 7
- Liam Healy – Moorefield – 5
- Ryan Houlihan – Moorefield – 6 (0-1)
- Jonathan Byrne – Allenwood – 6
- Gavin Farrell – Castledermot – 6
- Daniel Flynn – JTB – 8 (0-3)
- David Whyte – Moorefield – 6
- Cathal McNally – JTB – 6 (0-2)
- Eoghan O’Flaherty – Carbury – 7 (0-6, 4 frees)
- Adam Tyrell – Moorefield – 9 (0-9, 4 frees)
- James Eaton – Athy – 5
- Fionn Dowling – Suncroft – 5 (0-1)
- Seamus Hanafin – Ballyteague – 6 (0-1)
Seamus McNally JTB – 5 (for Houlihan 30m); Rob Kelly – Straffan – 6 (for Whyte 49m); Eddie Heavey – Moorefield – 5 (C.McNally 55m); Eoin Powderly – Kilcock (for Fitzpatrick 62m), Ray Cahill – Sarsfields (for Eaton 62m) (0-1); Eanna O’Connor – Moorefield – (for O’Flaherty 64m)
*Ratings are out of 10 and one fan’s opinion with 5 being Below Average, 6 Average 7 Good 8 Excellent 9 Superb and 10 Outstanding