Ronan Sweeney satisfied with Kildare's success
By Cian O'Connell
Kildare selector Ronan Sweeney is thrilled that the Lilywhites delivered when it truly counted in a gripping Championship encounter.
Saturday's sweet All Ireland SFC Qualifier success over Mayo at St Conleth's Park edged Kildare into the last 12 and Sweeney took huge satisfaction from the display.
"Unbelievable feeling," former Kildare star Sweeney stated following the game. "Just delighted. Over the moon for the players because they've gone through so much over the last couple of years, over the last number of years and just this year alone in the last couple of months and weeks.
"They've got a lot of stick here, deservedly so, we just didn't turn up in the first round against Carlow. To come through the process then and get to this stage now where we pull off this victory in front of our home fans, it's what dreams are made of really.
"Because we haven't got the opportunity to do this, to play in Newbridge too often, given the circumstances or whatever. But thankfully we got that opportunity because it meant a lot."
Relegated from Division One in the Allianz Football League and a disappointing Leinster Championship loss to Carlow hurt Kildare, but there has been a significant turnaround since then.
"Yeah, yeah, but they have it in them," Sweeney admits. "They're a brilliant bunch. They're talented and they've great character as well.
"You'd be just so disappointed for them throughout the League, that they didn't get to show that and didn't get that respect outside externally.
"Hopefully we'll get that now, we've a massive game next week now to get into the Super 8s. That's going to be a monster game because there's four good teams left in it."
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford acknowledged that Kildare were primed for this tussle.
"We always knew that they were going to come out with all guns blazing no matter where the game was played or under what circumstances," Rochford remarked.
"It didn’t surprise us. They were just that bit better a team than us on the day and all respect for that."
Despite being ravaged by injuries throughout the summer Rochford didn't want to use that issue an excuse for exiting the Championship.
"The point of losing a quality player like Tom (Parsons), not having Brendan Harrison really available for the most of the Championship, Seamie O’Shea, Donal Vaughan having an injury-ridden season, those things might add up," Rochford added.
"They weren’t the reasons we didn’t win - we lost because we were second best against a team that were that tad better than us."