Niall Kelly: ‘It will be great to be in Division One’
By Cian O'Connell
With two promotions in a row secured Kildare enter Sunday’s interesting Allianz Football League Division Two decider eager to earn silverware against Galway.
Niall Kelly has been a key figure throughout Kildare’s return to prominence and the Lilywhites forward hopes his county continues to develop.
“This year was great, but it will be great to be in Division One. Last year was good getting to Division Two but we didn’t win the final as we would have liked.
“Clare beat us and we didn’t perform up to scratch and we want to put that right now on Sunday and put in a performance because it’s our last competitive match going into Championship and it’s important to go into the summer on a high note.”
Galway overcame an understrength Kildare side at Pearse Stadium in Salthill on Sunday, but Kelly, who entered that contest as a substitute, expects another tight encounter.
“It will be, surely. You could see elements of how close the two teams are and there is very little between us on any given day,” Kelly admits.
"The three times we were in Croke Park last year, we didn’t perform up to scratch."
“Lads who haven’t played as many minutes as they would have liked throughout the league were given the chance, but they all stood up and really performed well.
“A lot of people weren’t giving us much of a chance even to compete. We still came down expecting to win. No matter who we’re taking the pitch with, we still want to win.”
To operate in Division One in 2018 was Kildare’s target under Cian O’Neill according to Kelly. “Our goal at the start of the year was to get to Division One,” Kelly says.
“You have to be pitting yourself against the best teams if you really want to succeed. That will be great next year for us. In Division Two this year, we came up against different styles of football and some of them were maybe more defensive than others and that offers different challenges and it was great to get that experience this year.
“We have to look after this Final first, but down the road it will be great especially for the young lads coming through to get the big games against the best teams.”
Delivering on the Croke Park stage again is what Kildare intend to do. “The three times we were in Croke Park last year, we didn’t perform up to scratch,” Kelly reflects.
“The three performances against Clare, Wexford and Westmeath were ones we weren’t happy with at all. We’re delighted to be there again. We can’t wait. To try to secure a bit of silverware would be a great way going into the Championship.”