O’Connor remains optimistic after Armagh defeat

After three games, Jack O’Connor’s Kildare sit 5th in the Division Two league table, just above the relegation zone on superior score difference, as Fermanagh, Clare and Cavan are also all on two points. 

Their second defeat of the campaign came on Saturday night when they were out fought by a hungrier and slicker Armagh side and O’Connor was clear that his side were simply second best on the night.

The atrocious weather conditions made it impossible for any free flowing football but Armagh adapted quicker to the circumstances and O’Connor pointed to his sides’ inability to deal with the conditions as the main reason for losing.

“After coming up we wanted to play it, the conditions weren’t suitable for football but anyway, the better team won and that was it. They handled the conditions a lot better than we did, they’re a big physical team and they were hurt from last week and they obviously wanted a reaction, they got a reaction and we couldn’t match that.”

O’Connor specifically pointed to Armagh’s strong start to the second half when points from Rian O’Neill (2), Stephen Sheridan and Aidan Nugent allowed the Orchard County to steal into an 11 point lead.

“It always takes a lot out of a team to play against the wind. The first ten minutes of the second half, we were trying to find our legs and they started the second half very well to be fair, and got three or four points so I suppose that was a bit of a hammer blow for us. In general, our boys battled away but Armagh handled the conditions a lot better than we did.”

The former All-Ireland winning manager remains confident in his side chances of staying in the push for promotion, with plenty of points still on offer in the remaining four games and suggests home advantage will aid his side for the remainder of the campaign, but knows his side must score more.

After posting 10 points in both loses against Clare and Armagh, the Kerry man has a target in mind that he believes will help his side get over the line, “We’re well aware of that (their poor scoring return), that’s for sure. I suppose there was some excuse tonight with the conditions but in general we want to be kicking 15, 16 points to win games.”

“We have a few fellas playing well and a few fellas, I suppose under-par but that’s the way it goes. We still don’t feel the league is over for us, we have eight points to play for, three games at home so it’s a matter of just sticking together and keeping the faith.”

“There’s teams going to take a lot of points off each other, it’s very, very hard to win away from home, we’ve had two in a row away from home. It’s very hard to get points; I think there’s been 18 points played for away from home and only one gone to the away team, so I think that tells a tale itself.”

“There is (plenty left to play for), there’s eight points to play for, you’d still be in the shake up if you had 10 points. It’s important to batten down the hatches now and get our heads around the next game and just stick together.”

The physical stakes around the centre of the park were a sight to behold and the game boiled over slightly at the interval with both sides getting involved in a scuffle. The physicality brought to the game by Armagh was unsurprising to the Lilywhites, who knew what to expect.

“No it didn’t surprise us at all, any team under McGeeney are going to be physical and they are a big physical outfit and they’d be very formidable here at home.”