"Come out and support us" Delaney's rallying call

Kildare Nationalist Edward Street
Newbridge Co. Kildare

045 432 147

“Come out and support us” Delaney’s rallying call By Daragh
î Conchuir

Don’t know if anyone out there has noticed, but Kildare are
competing in an All-Ireland final on Sunday. If you had just
landed on a spaceship from Mars, you would have no idea that
such a major event was just days away. Kildare supporters
are often lauded for their passion when it comes to supporting
their teams, and there is nothing like seeing hordes of white
jerseys at HQ. Why then, is there no hoopla about the Lilies
competing in the junior decider? Considering that this is
not a county overburdened with success, it’s baffling. Frank
Delaney agrees. Indeed, the articulate Kildare manager gets
quite angry about it, once he gets on a roll. “The profile
has improved. When we were in the final a couple of years
ago, we were outnumbered at least three to one by Roscommon
supporters, which as the County Board Chairman, Tom Ryan said,
was embarrassing, when you think how close we are to Dublin,
and how far they had to travel. “I can’t make people come
out and support us but I know it would mean so much to the
players. The effort and commitment of these girls is phenomenal.
It’s the same as any senior men’s team – training since January
6, three nights a week in Hawkfield, and a social life on
hold. “So it really irks me not to see bunting and banners
around the county. There are no flags on the cars. There is
no advertising in the shops. “On the day of the semi-final
against Tipp, the local radio station did not advertise the
game once all day. I couldn’t stress how much that irks me.
There was a sizeable crowd at Portarlington to cheer their
heroines into the final but it’s time now though to pull out
all the stops. “I would plead with the media to try to solicit
support for the players and it’s all about the players. I
really think cages need to be rattled on this.”

With that out of his system, the Athgarvan clubman settles
down to discussing his team and its mood in the lead-up to
the big day “Anxious but looking forward to it. There’s probably
a bit of nervousness there as well. “It’s great to be in the
final though, to be on the big stage. We’re not going in as
red-hot favourites, as we have in every game in Leinster this
year. Donegal were in Croke Park last year and that will stand
to them. “But the girls understand they have a job to do.”
Kildare have steamrollered all before them en route to Sunday’s
date with destiny, and there is no way that this will be the
case against Donegal. Does the manager worry that not being
used to a tough, tense struggle will tell against them when
the big question is asked? “I have seen this panel play against
senior teams this year, and don’t worry, they will dig deep.
They have the tenaciousness. They have been in tight situations
before and shown their character. They have proven their resolve,
commitment and heart. I think a tight game will suit them.
“Last year in the semi-final against Donegal, they were seven
points behind at half-time in extra time and they brought
it back to a point.”

Ah yes, that game in Ballybofey. It has become almost boring
at this stage, but still, it must be broached. It will be
remembered that the All Whites had the Ulster champions on
the ropes as time ran out. The margin had been reduced to
the minimum and the Down official whistled for a free to the
visitors. Delaney admits to thinking that they had the draw,
and that a replay in Newbridge would be just brilliant. Next
thing he knew, the final whistle was blown, before the free
could be taken. This is the only decision made by the officials
on the day that he felt was a wrong one, given that by his
watch, their were two minutes left on the clock. Yet he has
no time for the moaning, the policy of excuses.

“There has been a lot of talk about the referee, but referees
can be inconsistent. We didn’t win, Donegal did and while
we were disappointed with some of the decisions, the best
team won. “You can’t go blaming the referee, or the weather
or anything apart from yourself when you lose. You have to
be disciplined enough to know that you must put a team away
and we didn’t manage to do that. “And this is not a grudge
match either. There is no bad feeling between the players.
The Donegal captain was very sincere in her speech in our
dressing room last year.” He is refreshingly honest about
how he sees the All-Ireland panning out. His belief in his
charges’ character and ability is absolutely total. While
respecting Donegal, and expecting a tremendous battle, he
thinks Kildare will win. “There is a toss of a coin in it.
Donegal will play strong, physical football. They have brought
in five or six new players from last year, while we have about
12 of that starting team. “I think that Kildare have a good
defence, a very good midfield and the forwards have been scoring
better than in the past. Donegal’s forwards have struggled
but I think they will get their act together in the final.

“I think if Kildare are going to win it, the forwards will
have to perform. We should do it. If we’re going to do it,
it’ll be this year. I’ll have no excuses if we don’t. “It’s
going to take a huge effort but they won’t stop. They will
keep going to the very end. “I have faith in my team. This
is a team worthy of senior status.” Hopefully, come Sunday
evening, they it will have it.

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