O'Connor remaining hopeful despite second Kildare defeat
By Michael Devlin
Kildare boss Jack O’Connor has refused to rule out promotion despite slumping to a second consecutive Allianz League defeat in Armagh on Saturday night.
Every win in the ultra-competitive Division Two and could have a huge bearing on the final league table, especially considering that relegation to Division Three opens the door to a potential drop down to the second tier of Championship football come summertime.
Kildare came to the Athletic Grounds hoping to bounce back from a narrow defeat to Clare on match day two, but were soundly beaten by a determined Armagh side also intent on getting back to winning ways.
O’Connor however was looking on the bright side after the final whistle, citing the majority of home games left on the Lilywhites’ schedule to bank the points needed to climb up the table into a top two spot.
They host Roscommon next, then a short trip to neighbours Laois before rounding off their campaign with home ties against Cavan and Westmeath.
“We still don’t think the league is over for us. We have eight points to play for, three games at home, so it’s a matter of just sticking together and keeping the faith.
“There’s teams going to take a lot of points off each other. It’s very, very hard to win away from home, we’ve had two in a row away from home and it’s very hard to get points.
“I think there’s been 18 points played for away from home, and only one gone to the away team, so I think that tells a tale in itself.
“You’ll still be in the shake-up if you’ve ten points, but I think it’s important to batten down the hatches and get our heads around the next game and just stick together.”
The punishing conditions of Storm Ciara presented a huge challenge to both sides on Saturday evening as teeming rain, relentless gales and a sodden surface made it a difficult night for football.
Ultimately though Armagh were able to attune to the weather that bit better, especially when they were battling against the game-defining wind in the second half, and forcibly saw out a 0-16 to 0-10 win that catapulted them to the top of the table.
“They handled the conditions a lot better than we did,” admitted O’Connor after the game. “They are a big physical team and they were hurting from last week, and they obviously wanted a reaction and they got it. We couldn’t match that.
“It always takes a lot out of a team to play against the wind. First ten minutes of the second half we were trying to find our legs, and they started the second half very well in fairness. They got three or four points, so I suppose that was a hammer blow for us.
“But look, our fella’s battled away but Armagh handled the conditions a lot better than we did.”