By Seamus Leonard - @RTESundayGame
Wicklow manager Mick O’Dwyer expressed disappointment at his side’s Leinster Senior Football Championship defeat to Kildare, but is still hoping his troops can make an impact through the back door.
The Garden County were convincingly beaten 0-12 to 0-05 at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise this afternoon.
However they were still very much in with a shout at half-time as they trailed by just a point – 0-05 to 0-04 – after playing into a strong wind.
The second half saw O’Dwyer’s men collapse and had it not been for a last gasp Leighton Glynn free they would have gone through the entire second period without registering a score.
‘We just seemed to fall asunder completely in the second half,’ said O’Dwyer.
‘It was amazing. Kildare seemed to be very, very sharp and we weren’t. That was about the sum total of it. They just dominated all over the field.’
The former Kerry, Kildare and Laois supremo had praise for his full-back line of Ciarán Hyland, Alan Byrne and Stephen ‘Chester’ Kelly, but admitted his side were taken to the cleaners elsewhere on the field.
‘I suppose the biggest disappointment for us today was our full-forward line who had been doing exceptionally well all through the league,’ O Dwyer said. ‘Things didn’t run for them today but that’s the luck of the game.’
Wicklow had early success with their direct ball approach, but they had no alternative tactic once Kildare installed Morgan O’Flaherty as a sweeper and cut out the supply to full-forward Seanie Furlong.
‘That’s what we’ve being doing all year,’ O’Dwyer said.
‘We were driving the ball into the full-forward line and it was working well all year for us; scores were coming off it. But today the Kildare full-back line really got on top of our full-forward line - completely and totally in the second half - but that’s part and parcel of football.’
O’Dwyer had no complaints about the result, and believes that the Lilywhites will be tough to beat as the Championship progresses.
‘Kildare were a better team today by a mile. I mean they only won by seven points in the finish and they could quite easily won by a little bit more.
‘They had a lot of wides and what have you. But generally, overall, they were a better team and I have no doubt they’ll put it up to the other teams in Leinster.’
Wicklow had corner-forward Austin O’Malley sent off for elbowing Kildare defender Andriú MacLochlainn in the face six minutes from time, but O’Dwyer would not be drawn on the issue.
‘He (O’Malley) just told me that he just tried to shake him off and MacLochlainn went down,’ O’Dwyer said.
‘I don’t know if he deserved to be sent off or not. I can’t tell because I didn’t see the incident to be honest.’
The 74-year-old’s focus now turns to the qualifier system, where the Garden men have impressed under his stewardship.
‘So we’ll have to try and resurrect them now and let’s get going for the qualifiers. We just hope that we get an easy draw; you never know what could happen.’
O’Dwyer offered an experience he had as Laois manager as a sign that all may not be lost yet for his side.
‘I remember one time I was with Laois and we were hammered by 14 points in Croke Park and we came back the following Sunday to beat Tyrone.
‘But, you know, we’ll just have to wait and see. We’ll have to do a lot of work to get back where we were 12 months ago.
‘We’ll have to make big improvements, there’s no doubt about that. We’ll just have to get down to hard training this week and we’ll have to work at it and that’s it.’