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Ryan hopeful Lilywhites can blossom
30 Jan 2015 11:11
Kildare are favourites to claim the Allianz Football League Division 2 title this season, but the weight of expectation rests comfortably on the shoulder of Lilywhites supremo Jason Ryan ahead of their opener against Down in Newbridge on Sunday.
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Ryan oversaw Kildare’s elimination from the top tier last season, but was bolstered by an encouraging championship campaign which saw the county reach the semi-finals of the Leinster Championship.
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Kildare went on to account for Down and Clare in the qualifiers before their campaign came to an agonising halt after an extra-time loss to Monaghan.
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Ryan’s charges have already won four matches in 2015, with their winning sequence only coming to an end following another extra-time defeat to Dublin in last weekend’s O’Byrne Cup final.
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“The expectations are massive,” Ryan said.
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“But I suppose expectations come along with a few positive results.”
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However, the former Wexford manager admitted that Kildare still have progress to make to challenge those in the upper echelons of the game.
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“As a management team we’re very realistic,” Ryan added.
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“We know that we’re in the middle of a building phase, that we want to become a team that - regardless of who we’re playing in Ireland - we’re competitive.
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“Last year would have shown that against a number of teams that we’ve a bit of work to do.
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“Now whether that’s because we had so many players that were missing, or whether it was a case that we as a management team got things wrong tactically, or whether it was a case that those teams are really that little bit ahead of us talent-wise and experience-wise, who knows.
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“But what we do know, and what we are in control of, is that the players - when they are fit and well and are all working together as a group - can really progress and we can really improve.
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“I suppose the lead-up to our last round of the qualifiers against Monaghan was a testament to that that. As a group they worked really, really hard at trying to improve our style of play and various aspects of our performance and in that Monaghan game we played probably our best football of the whole year last year.”
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