HomeFootball‘We only have ourselves to blame’ – Darragh Kirwan hopes Kildare can...

‘We only have ourselves to blame’ – Darragh Kirwan hopes Kildare can save dismal season in Tailteann Cup


Related stories


Second-tier championship where the Lilies’ senior footballers deserve to be, but they are planning to make the most of it

With just one win from nine competitive games between league (they were relegated without any points from Division 2) and championship, Glenn Ryan’s Lilies are at a low ebb with plenty of negative commentary being fired in their direction, but the opportunity to finish the season on a high is before them.

That’s a chance which they must seize or it will go down as one of the worst years in their history, and Darragh Kirwan is keen to do so. This isn’t where they planned to be, but the Naas forward wants them to make a statement and leave recent performances behind them.

“At the start of the year, you set out your target to try and play at the highest level we can, but I believe we only have ourselves to blame for being here,” Kirwan said at yesterday’s Tailteann Cup launch in Croke Park.

“And we have absolutely no right to look down on it, and we absolutely don’t. You’re not entitled to play in any competition, you have to go out and earn the right.

“We haven’t done that through our league performances and ultimately not getting to the Leinster final either, so we can have no complaints. We are where we are on the merits of our performances being under par.

“So, we are viewing it as an opportunity now to just build momentum and keep playing football together over the next few weeks and see where it takes us.”

Given their large population base (250,000 approximately), as well as three All-Ireland U-20 final appearances in the past six years (including victory in 2018 and again last year), criticism has been in strong supply towards them.

Most people cannot get their heads around a misfiring season and Kirwan admits it has been “tough”, with plenty of self-reflection on the agenda.

“There’s no shying away from it – it has been tough, especially when all you want to do is succeed and win and try and get to the highest level you can, which is Division 1,” he said.

​“It’s tough, but you have to look inwards at yourself individually and what you’re doing wrong, and it kind of combines then into the team stuff. But it’s tough, there’s no shying away from it.

“There’s been a lot of slack on players and management, which has been hard to take and hard to ignore, but you just have to stick together, which we have, management and players.

“You have to keep putting the shoulder to the wheel on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and any days we train.”

Kildare commence their Tailteann Cup campaign against Longford on Saturday, with the county’s Centre of Excellence in Hawkfield chosen as the venue as St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge undergoes a major facelift.

A paltry attendance is expected given a capacity of just 1,200 at their disposal, but Kirwan insists that they must pick themselves up off the floor and start delivering encouraging displays.

“Confidence probably has been low and it sort of filters in when you start second-guessing yourself on the pitch and you just don’t really have that bounce in your step,” he said.

“You go in confident in the preparation you’ve done and fully confident in what the management have preached across to us, but maybe there is a subconscious of second-guessing yourself when things haven’t been going well.

“But no, we’ll regroup – there’s a good group of players there, a good group of management there, and with everyone putting their shoulder to the wheel, we’ll put our best foot forward.”

Their Leinster semi-final reversal to Louth is “still a bit raw” some 10 days later, while Kirwan is hoping to leave his own injury problems in the rear-view mirror to play his part in turning things around.

“We weren’t good enough on the day against Louth and we are where we are now. You could talk all night about the stuff (that went wrong), but you have to move on pretty quickly,” Kirwan said as minds quickly turn to Longford.

“We have done that swiftly enough, so we’re all eyes now for the weekend against Longford, hoping to build a bit of momentum and get back playing with a bit of enjoyment again.

“You just have to keep going, keep believing in yourself and the group and the players around you, which I do have full belief in. Hopefully we’ll come right now in the coming weeks.”

- Never miss a story with notifications

- Gain full access to our premium content

- Browse free from up to 5 devices at once

Latest stories