Kildare U20 manager Brian Flanagan pictured ahead of the EirGrid GAA Football U20 All-Ireland Final on Saturday.
Kildare U20 manager Brian Flanagan pictured ahead of the EirGrid GAA Football U20 All-Ireland Final on Saturday.

Kildare eager to develop further


Saturday May 14

EirGrid All Ireland Under 20 Football Championship Final

Kildare v Tyrone, Avant Money Páirc Seán MacDiarmada, 5pm

By Cian O'Connell

These are encouraging times for Kildare football with U20 manager Brian Flanagan aware that something is beginning to stir.

Promise has been demonstrated in the underage and post primary schools ranks so the future glimmers with hope.

Flanagan, though, is adamant about the role senior boss Glenn Ryan is occupying in the journey.

Saturday's U20 opponents Tyrone have been successful at various levels with Flanagan acknowledging their attitude and application.

"You think about Tyrone football, you think of what they have achieved over the last 20 years, you think of the characteristics of most of their teams - it is very easy to identify what they are about," Flanagan says.

"I think the new senior management in Kildare since coming in have been extremely clear with myself and the minor management that we build a unique identity, that we build a self belief in Kildare football of want and an enthusiasm to play for the Kildare team, and to win things for Kildare football.

"While we all want to be competitive, ultimately we want to win. Glen has been brilliant in that way, he has given us huge support throughout the year, as have Johnny, Dermot (Earley), and Anthony Rainbow - the whole of them. They are doing their best to form that identity and feed it down into the underage."

At different levels Flanagan has witnessed the sheer effort that people on the ground in Kildare are making. "There has been a huge body of work," Flanagan responds.

Kildare senior football manager Glenn Ryan pictured with selectors Dermot Earley and Johnny Doyle.
Kildare senior football manager Glenn Ryan pictured with selectors Dermot Earley and Johnny Doyle.

"If you look at what is going on internally within the county there is probably a couple of strands to that. At schools level this year you have seen Maynooth, Clane, and Naas CBS, three of the four semi-finalists in the Leinster Championship.

"Naas obviously went on to win the All Ireland, they have been very competitive for a couple of years. At underage within the county the development squads have worked really well - Johnny Doyle and Paul Divilly are putting huge work in, we are really beginning to see the fruits of that coming through at minor and U20 level.

"I think we really have got our house in order in the last couple of years, you just want that to continue and you want it to bring success. We need to keep our eyes on the prize in that regard for this weekend."

The fact that so many of Kildare's matches have been hard fought wins is noteworthy according to Flanagan.

"You wouldn't really have wanted it any other way because we are talking about developing young lads, developing them as footballers, athletes, and competitors," Flanagan says.

"Right from the word go you look at our results, we beat Laois by two, we beat Offaly by two, we beat Dublin by two, and then beat Sligo by five. There has been no game where it has been comfortable going down the home stretch.

"There has been no game that has been easy or over at half-time, anything like that. Not that you'd want it, but it has been a tough campaign to date."

A demanding Tyrone test is next for Kildare in Carrick-on-Shannon.