Kildare exited the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship on Saturday night, losing 1-17 to 0-17 against Armagh in Croke Park.
After getting widely praised after their Leinster final defeat to Dublin, Kildare failed to bounce back in this qualifier – the seventh year in a row the team who Dublin beat in a provincial final lost their qualifier game.
However, the Lilywhites are building something here. After winning promotion from Division 2 in the spring, it was a good year overall for Kildare. That won’t ease their pain this weekend but as they reflect over the winter, they will be content with 2017.
For Cian O’Neill though, he feels they could have won this game:
“You get to this stage and it’s a match we felt we could have won – in many ways should have won – but unfortunately we didn’t. We’ll take the promotion and we’re proud of that but everyone will be disappointed.
“We don’t care about promotion when you’re in the season. We didn’t finish the season where we wanted which was minimum, a quarter-final.”
The loss on Saturday night added to the Lilywhites poor form at GAA HQ over the last few years. While this has to be of concern, the fact that you typically only play the bigger guns at Croke Park skews that stat somewhat.
“There’s an obvious trend that can’t be denied but if you look at the matches we’ve lost, one was a league final where you’re playing a team of equal ability who will be in Division 1 next year, he said.
“One was a Leinster final – I’m just speaking of this year, where you’re playing the best team in the country of recent years. And then today, which will really rankle with us.”
Kildare will come back stronger in 2018. However, until then, they will have to take note of the mistakes they made in this three-point defeat and learn from the experience.
For Armagh, they take a spot in the draw for the quarter-finals where they face either Tyrone or defending champions, Dublin.
Check out this week’s episode of The 16th Man where we look ahead to Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final double-header in Croke Park.