Kildare know all too well the potential banana skin in front of them as they prepare for their Leinster Football Senior Championship showdown with Wicklow on Saturday evening.
The Lilywhites fell to a shock defeat at this stage last season when Carlow ambushed them at Netwatch Cullen Park, the same venue for their clash with Wicklow.
Vice-captain, Kevin Feely, admits there is pressure on Kildare heading into Saturday’s game considering what happened against Carlow last season.
“We’d feel under pressure. Especially after the Carlow game, that’s where the real pressure is coming from, can we deal with that and can we not let that happen again. It’s not even a case of underestimating an opponent – it’s just can we deal with the pressure of what happened in Carlow last year. There’s a level of expectation too – there’s almost an assumption that we’ll get to that semi against Dublin so it certainly won’t be easy,” Feely told Pundit Arena.
“After Carlow, we can’t take any first round Leinster first round match for granted. They’ve had a decent league campaign so we won’t be looking past it certainly. We’re back with the county now after the club break so our sole focus will be on that and not repeating the same errors as last year.”
Captain Eoin Doyle reiterated that they are fully focused on Wicklow this weekend and that Cian O’Neill’s panel have been working hard to ensure that a repeat of last year doesn’t happen.
“Going back on last year we got caught out in this round so we need to make sure we’re solely focused on that. For now, it’s all focused on Wicklow and making sure the 15 on the pitch is performing on that day.
“We’re training as best as we can, we’re training as hard as we can but we hope we’re ticking the right boxes, it’s going to come down to the players on the day coming out and turning in a very good performance to get us over the line because we can do all the training and preparation but if the players don’t go out and perform, well then we are not going to get the result we want, so it’s on the players.”
Despite falling just short in their bid for promotion back to Division 1 of the Allianz Football League, there is a renewed sense of optimism floating in the Kildare air following their U20 All-Ireland success last season.
It was the county’s first All-Ireland title in 53 years and a number of that successful team have made the transition into Cian O’Neill’s panel, including the much talked about Jimmy Hyland, the man who kicked 0-10 in last year’s final win over Mayo.
While Feely admits they have brought a “fresher approach to training”, Doyle credits their winning mentality which can only be a positive for Kildare going forward.
“It’s brilliant, you’d rather have them coming in with All-Ireland medals than not. They’re good footballers, they have a good mentality and they have that winning mentality which is great.
“You constantly need change and people coming in and pushing those players and those U20s coming in, in the very near future they will be the mainstay of this Kildare team and rightly so.
“It’s great to have them there, I think it’s our job as senior players to create an environment and carve a path for them to be successful and hope they don’t lose that winning mentality because you can go and win an U20s All-Ireland but then not win anything for a number of years. That mentality can be lost.
“So, we need to make sure that we keep it there for the lads and that they keep it there for themselves. They are very much a massive part of our panel.”