Kildare’s decision to pull the plug on their final O’Byrne Cup group match, originally scheduled for Kinnegad against Westmeath tomorrow night, has left many Kildare supporters disappointed.

On Monday, Louth, who are guaranteed a semi-final against Dublin or Offaly next weekend, pulled out of their dead rubber tie with Wexford in Kildare’s group citing unavailability of players due to Sigerson Cup commitments and this morning the Leinster Council advised that Kildare are unable to fulfil their fixture.

It has been reported that Kildare cannot complete their campaign due to players preparing for exams, upcoming Sigerson Cup commitments and wishing to focus on National League preparations.

To the best of our knoweldge this is the first time in Kildare’s long GAA history that we have granted a walkover to the opposition in a competitive senior football match and a number of supporters are unhappy that we have followed Louth’s lead. At least in their case they have a semi-final and possibly a final to look forward to.

There’s also the issue that Leinster GAA and their streaming partners Clubber had marketed packages costing €39.99 which granted access to all O’Byrne Cup and Walsh Cup games in January. A number of Kildare supporters would have shelled out for that package expecting to see at least three Kildare games. They ended up with two. There is no sign of a refund coming from Clubber.

Let’s try to look at this from a management perspective, though.

Firstly, I don’t think the Sigerson Cup excuse stands up very closely to scrutiny. As far as I know only Alex Beirne, Jack Quinn, Darragh Kirwan, Paddy McDermott and Shane O’Sullivan are in action this week in the Higher Education competition. Ryan Houlihan would have been but is nursing a hamstring injury apparently.

Regarding the second reason, impending exams, we don’t have any insight into how many players this might impact. A lot of colleges still hold their exams in December to my knowledge. Besides, if exams were an issue they surely would have been for Saturday’s game as well?

It strikes me therefore that the most compelling reason is probably the third one given, that the management wish to focus on National League preparations. If I were Glenn Ryan and gang, I would too.

While it might be optimistic to expect a win against a rejuvenated and re-inforced Dublin in Croke Park, the performance in just over two weeks time will set the tone for a vital League campaign in which Kildare need to be properly tuned to avoid dicing with relegation to the Tailteann Cup this summer.

I could understand therefore, particularly after the performance against Louth, that management would opt, given that there appear to be no consequences of doing so, to lock the gates of Hawkfield and concentrate their efforts away from prying eyes and streaming services on the huge task ahead.

Like all supporters I am disappointed not to be travelling to Kinnegad, and I don’t think it paints Kildare in a particularly positive light, particularly where the competition is supposed to support the Players Injury Fund, but I can sympathise with the rationale.

How the County Board deal with the first club who decide they’re not going to complete a round robin series is another matter. What’s good for the goose…

By admin