11 March 2018 – Kildare 1-12 Mayo 1-19 (NFL Division One, Newbridge)

Kildare 1-12 Mayo 1-19 (NFL Div 1, Newbridge, 11 March 2018)

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

St Conleths
“St. Conleth’s: Always a Pleasure”

Calvin Coolidge.

No hard-luck stories here. No referee to take the flack. Just a brutal, shambolic performance. On the field. In the dug-out. On the terraces.

There’s no dressing this one up. An utter embarrassment.

I’ve been taken to task of late for highlighting that damning, painful statistic: Kildare senior teams have now lost 18 (EIGHTEEN) competitive matches in a row across both codes.

Okay so let’s ignore the hurlers who we don’t expect a whole lot from anyway (no disrespect to young lads trying their hearts out). So it’s NINE defeats in a row for the footballers.  Even taking away the O’Byrne Cup – it’s seven in a row and nine in eleven dating back to Salthill.

Is it only the supporters who are embarrassed? I don’t want Mayo fans thanking “the Kildare faithful for being as sound as always, Conleth’s is always a pleasure to travel to.” I want Mayo fans going home up the N4 with their arses handed to them and wishing they could never see the place again.

Where to start with this shambolic tale of woe?

How about with a 36 year old winning 15 out of 16 races for possession against a full-back eleven years his younger?

A ridiculously talented full forward who skies at least three attempts at points.

A free-taker who can’t find the target from 23 metres straight in front of the posts.

One of the best forward prospects in the country three years ago who can’t get the ball above the goalkeeper’s height on two occasions?

A defender who thinks tackling consists of a slap on the back on the inevitable way past for a marauding Connachtman?

A captain finally provided with the protection to enable him to “sit” in front of the 36 year old full-forward but goes missing in action when Mayo predictably plonk a few balls into the wide open spaces in front of said player.

Or a management team that allow this all to play out in front of them without a semblance of a Plan B.

Division One? You’re having a laugh?

Learning Lessons? What would Coolidge think?

This is a team, this Golden Generation, that is falling apart. By the end of this campaign they’ll graduate as educated derelicts. No passion, no pride, no wit or will to change the script playing out in front of them. Back to Division Two and hoping the opposition there will be as weak as last year’s. Sure we’ll come straight back up like Cavan. Right.

For all the wide-open spaces that greeted Mayo’s grizzly warriors in the second-half a ramble through the opening period is more instructive to understand the shocking poverty of this Lilywhite performance.

Within the first five minutes the following occurred:

  • Daniel Flynn hits a Hail Mary effort wide from long-range
  • Kevin Feely takes a sideline from a dangerous position in the corner – he floats it over Flynn’s lazily outstretched arm and over the end line
  • Feely shoots a poor left-footed effort wide from another low-percentage position
  • Kildare give away a free 40 metres out, one Cillian O’Connor has proven well capable of missing over the years (we were taking bets on which upright he’d hit). Cian O’Donoghue feels sorry for him and stands in front of the kicker to get it moved in front of the posts for an easy opener for Mayo
  • Kevin Flynn dashes forward and has the ball stripped from him as Mayo set up another attack

There was plenty more where that came from. From unforced errors like O’Donoghue touching it on the ground under little pressure to Niall Kelly blasting straight at the keeper with the goal at his mercy. From Daniel’s up and under (aka shot for a point) to O’Donoghue blazing wide from 13 metres in front of the posts.

Daniel shooting 10 metres wide to an awful effort from Kelly.  David Hyland’s one-man Andy Moran appreciation society.

“Conleth’s is always a pleasure to travel to.”

Mayo were three points ahead before referee Martin McNally brought eleven comedic minutes to an end for an off-the-ball foul on Flynn and Feely was able to find the range. Definitely some Johnstownbridge links with a name like McNally.

Celbridge’s Kevin Flynn, on his first senior start, showed the spirit and dash that none of his more experienced colleagues could be arsed to match, driving forward to make it 0-2 to 0-3.

Then came Kelly’s miss. Daniel was the focal point of every Kildare attack and was playing Ger Cafferkey off the park. It was his perceptive pass that put Kelly through on goal but his shot was placed perfectly for Rob Hennelly, head-height and straight at the keeper. Big moment.

Mayo took the warning and moved three clear again at 0-5 to 0-2 thanks to the O’Connor brothers.

Kildare had about 5 minutes of dominance though and briefly looked like making a real game of it.

Peter Kelly broke forward to find Daniel once more in space and he offloaded to Slattery who was fouled. Feely tapped over.

Paddy Brophy, wandering like a lost sheep around midfield for most of the game, put the head down along the left-wing and showed a glimpse of his former self when cutting inside and swinging over a glorious effort to narrow the gap to a point.

Then Daniel added to his repertoire of tasty goals. The snow may as well have been back as he picked up a ball on the left-hand side of the goals and slalomed in and out of three attempted Mayo tackles before finding himself on the other side of the goal. The low finish was sublime and Kildare, despite themselves, were two ahead. 1-4 to 0-5.

Naturally, there followed a period of goofy Kildare attacking. Mayo are not averse to switching off the brains either of course and ultimately it’s what costs them the big prize. Here Keegan and Moran put all their experience to the back of their minds and shot tamely into Mark Donnellan’s arms.

Kildare’s most Kildare-like effort in this period was when Hyland prompted O’Grady forward but with the Celbridge man in space in the Mayo half he lost balance and fell on the ball.

Mayo stepped it up though and a devastating last 10 minutes of the half put the game to bed.  Brophy weakly lost the ball in the tackle as he criss-crossed midfield. Keith Cribbin needlessly fouled Kevin McLoughlin and O’Connor pointed the free.

O’Connor scored the point of the game from 47 metres although it might have been an idea for a Kildare player to get within 3 metres of him.

Cribbin, already on a yellow card, pulled down Aidan O’Shea on the ’45 but Donnellan plucked O’Connor’s free from above the cross-bar to keep Kildare level.

Not for long though as McLoughlin fed Adam Gallagher for Mayo’s lead point.

The game effectively ended in injury time as Moran got in front of O’Grady this time and fed Keegan near the end line. His pass was palmed to the net by O’Shea in what was Mayo’s only goal chance of the opening period.

Diarmuid O’Connor rammed home the Westerners’ superiority with the final point of the half.

Half – Time: Kildare 1-4 Mayo 1-9

Kildare didn’t make a change at half-time. Think about that.

Clearly they were quite happy with Moran winning each of the SEVEN races for possession he was involved in. It would get worse. It was the 40th minute before Moran finally mis-judged one and Hyland was there to get his hands on it. Moran won the other EIGHT times but never mind. It’s a learning experience.

Kildare could have made a game of it perhaps if Niall Kelly’s early burst through on goal had resulted in anything other than a weak hand-pass towards Daniel. Feely profited from a stray Mayo hand on the ball on the ground.

But Mayo were relentlessly moving into gear and their mood was lightened when they saw Kildare had given up on any semblance of a structured defensive strategy.

The home side got back to within four points by the 42nd minute when Kelly angled over his only point on a poor afternoon for the Athyman.

Mayo were carving open the defence now. Or being waved through if you prefer. Gallagher could have gone for goal but pointed when clear down the centre. Moran then, lo and behold, got himself in front of Hyland and fed Cillian but Donnellan was down smartish to smother and the livewire McLoughlin somehow blazed wide.

Maybe he was unnerved by the sudden round of claps on the back the Mayo players were getting from Kildare on their way towards Donnellan’s goal. You’d have thought they’d have got the greetings out of the way before throw-in.  “Conleth’s is always a pleasure…”.

With Mayo penetrating at will and Kildare looking forward to Cheltenham, Donnellan was on permanent sentry duty. He denied Seamus O’Shea for the concession of a ’45 on 49 minutes and then Mayo stretched their lead to seven (1-14 to 1-7) when Moran took a point. Dublin would have rammed it down Donnellan’s throat. Therein perhaps lies the difference.

Kildare’s day was going from bad to worse. Heads were on the floor. Feely’s missed free-kick from in front of the posts perhaps putting the tin-hat on it.

O’Donoghue charged forward as he is wont to do, but he lost possession, as he is wont to do. And his namesake Eoin showed him how it’s done as he finished off a flowing Mayo move to make it an eight point gap on 56 minutes.

Three minutes later and another goal chance for the Mayomen. Doherty was clean through this time and while at first glance it was another fine save from Donnellan, on closer inspection it was clear that Johnny Byrne’s arse had got to the ball first.

Donnellan promptly swung a ’45 wide. Plenty of room for it etc…

Time for one more Mayo goal chance. Moran got ahead of a certain Kildare full back and fed Keegan but the big Maynooth keeper denied them once more.

Time for Byrne to make his excuses and depart on an unnecessary black card for hauling Aidan O’Shea down.

And a few academic points were exchanged by either side as Mayo cantered to the easiest win they’ll get this year.

At the start of the year Cian O’Neill said it was “Time to Shit or Get off the Pot”.

Well this was shit and maybe some pot is the only answer.

Player Ratings:

Mark Donnellan – 7 – Recovered from Donegal debacle with some fine saves when the Mayo tide was threatening to swamp Kildare in the second-half. Clawed one out of the skies over his cross-bar as well. Kick-outs not particularly successful though and free-taking was askew.

Peter Kelly – 6 – Not the worst defensively but didn’t reach heights of Ballyshannon. Generally held Doherty and may have been better placed on Moran given his recent form.

David Hyland – 3 – Quite shocking that he remained on Moran all day. Schooled by the Footballer of the Year. Dereliction of management duty to leave him there.

Mick O’Grady – 6 – Solid enough.

Cian O’Donoghue – 6 – His energy was a bright spot but was weak in the tackle and turned over ball on occasion. Brilliant mark at the end but game was long gone.

Eoin Doyle – 5 – Poor outing. Doesn’t seem to know what role to fill when Kildare are defending. Despite having Keith Cribbin ahead of him, was unable to block off supply route to Moran which presumably was his primary job. Looked lost and demotivated by the end.

Kevin Flynn – 8 – By some distance Kildare’s best outfield player, in his first start for the team. Says a lot about the performances around him. Drove forward, defensively strong, took two points. Set up others. The one real bright point for Cian O’Neill.

Kevin Feely – 6 –  Form has dipped alarmingly this season and was playing this game at a different pace altogether to Mayo. Sooner Neil Flynn or another free-taker can step up to take that responsibility off him the better it might be for the Athyman.

Tommy Moolick – 6 – Strong first-half performance, covered usual amount of ground and won plenty of primary possession. Fitness and mobility for the longer haul remain a question mark.

Fergal Conway – 5 – only dabbled with the game for long periods. Peripheral too often of late.

Niall Kelly – 5 – Fluffed goal chance, two weak efforts into keeper’s hands. Another poor outing for a player whose career at this level has stalled alarmingly.

Keith Cribbin – 6 – Positioned at half-back to free up Doyle, his pace is welcome back there but tackling remains “variable”. Was whipped off before he racked up a second yellow as if to illustrate that point.

David Slattery – 4 – Not in the game at all. Struggling to reach the heights of last summer.

Daniel Flynn – 6 – So frustrating for him and the supporters, this one. Had Cafferkey on toast for much of the first-half and his goal was a thing of beauty (once more). But his shooting was appalling and he was nowhere to be seen in the third quarter when Kildare needed to mount a charge. Mayo nullified him with ease in the end.

Paddy Brophy – 5 – seems to have lost much of the dash that saw him score six from play against the same opposition four years ago. Perhaps will see the best of him in the summer as he’s not back a year yet from Oz. Would be more dangerous alongside Flynn closer to goal surely?


Ben McCormack –6 – lively enough and scored a good point but two weak efforts as well.

Johnny Byrne – 5 – saved a goal but took an unnecessary black card.

Paul Cribbin – 5 – star has really fallen when he’s not even starting. So much talent.

Fionn Dowling – 6 – customary point on his 9,000th substitute appearance

Chris Healy – 5 – sharp-shooting goalscorer who Cian O’Neill deploys as far away as possible from troubling the opposition goal

Jimmy Hyland – 6 – doesn’t really look ready to impose himself on the inter-county scene but hopefully these cameos will help as part of the learning process.

Scorers for Kildare: K Feely (4f) 0-5, D Flynn 1-0, K. Flynn 0-2, F Conway, P Brophy, N Kelly, B McCormack, F Dowling 0-1

Kildare Line Up:

Pos Player Sub
1 Mark Donnellan
2 Peter Kelly
3 David Hyland
4 Mick O’Grady
5 Cian O’Donoghue
6 Eoin Doyle
7 Kevin Flynn Jimmy Hyland (58)
8 Kevin Feely
9 Tommy Moolick Fionn Dowling (53)
10 Fergal Conway Chris Healy (55)
11 Niall Kelly
12 Keith Cribbin Johnny Byrne (46)
13 David Slattery Ben McCormack (44)
14 Daniel Flynn
15 Paddy Brophy Paul Cribbin (51)