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Kildare moving to keep hold of Kieran McGeeney

By John Campbell

While a number of counties would covet Kieran McGeeney as their new manager, the former Armagh All-Ireland winning captain may decide to extend his tenure with Kildare.

McGeeney’s three-year term ended when Kildare lost out to Down in last Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final but the county board is particularly anxious that the Mullaghbawn native and his No 2 Aidan O’Rourke should remain at the helm.

In both 2008 and last year, ‘Geezer’ steered Kildare into the All Ireland quarter-finals before masterminding their surge into this year’s semi-finals.

And although savagely disappointed with the refereeing decisions that went against his side on Sunday, McGeeney has since insisted that the quality contained in the current Kildare side could yet see an All Ireland title come to the county.

Forced to play without their injured midfield talisman Dermot Earley against Down, Kildare were on the back foot for spells but McGeeney’s clever switches and his astute use of substitutes saw his side come within a whisker of booking a place in the All Ireland final.

He subsequently branded GAA match presentation officials as “idiots” because of a decision to impose a sanction against Kildare in the wake of Aidan O’Rourke’s incursions onto the playing pitch against Meath while at the same time his side were forced to pay a heavy penalty against Down when Benny Coulter’s 12th minute ‘square ball’ goal stood and Alan Smith’s perfectly good point for the Lily Whites was ruled out.

McGeeney is now regarded as one of the brightest young managers in gaelic football and it has been suggested that he could become a future boss of his native Armagh.

But McGeeney, while disappointed that he was not approached prior to the appointment of Peter McDonnell in the orchard county three years ago, has now carved out his own niche in the management sphere and it’s hardly surprising that Kildare chairman Padraig Ashe is insisting that “everything possible” will be done to keep McGeeney in his present role.

“We are more than happy with our existing management team and we certainly hope that they will continue in their roles. Kieran McGeeney has brought Kildare to new heights and only ill-luck has prevented us from reaching the All-Ireland final this year,” said Ashe.

Assuming McGeeney remains in charge, he will find himself perhaps confronting his former Armagh defensive colleague Justin McNulty in the Leinster Championship next year.

McNulty, who like McGeeney also hails from Mullaghbawn, has just taken over as Laois boss and is already conducting an intensive trawl for talent throughout the county prior to naming his initial playing panel.

“Everyone will get a chance, the door is open to all players who will show a commitment to the Laois cause,” said McNulty whose brother Enda was part of the Armagh squad this year.

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