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James Kielt thankful that O'Fiaich Cup can satisfy appetite for regular football

By Declan Bogue

Faced with a troupe of weary journalists that find it hard to believe they are still covering inter-county football in December, Derry's James Kielt immediately injected some enthusiasm into a post-match interview after Derry saw off Down with the last kick of the game in Sunday's O'Fiaich Cup clash in Crossmaglen.

Asked if he, an established county player, would still want to 'bust his ass' playing in this tournament, the Kilrea man responded, "You would think that. But you are training four or five times and week and going out to the gym, running and things like that. At the end of the day you would want to get out there then.

"You ask anyone in the panel would they rather be here playing a match or else in Owenbeg training and that's what it is all about. It's my first game in three months so I loved it."

Last week, Sean Cavanagh described how he hadn't looked at his football boots, lifted a weight or went to the gym for a month and was glad of the break. Perhaps his enthusiasm was coloured by many years playing for Queen's around this time of year.

With the aid of the strong wind in the first-half, Kielt employed his shooting talents.

He hit four points in total, one from a free, by lifting the ball into the sky with that languid style of his, allowing the billowing gusts to carry it over.

He has the appetite for football and is in favour of this exhumed competition as he says, "It's better than training. With the rule being brought in with teams not training until December, everybody knows teams are training away, but you can't play matches. It's all games now."

This being one of the first games to be played with the new black card punishment in place, Kielt was naturally curious to see how it panned out for referee Paudie Hughes, but admitted that the colour of the card might cause some confusion, especially in the dank light of Sunday.

"There were a couple of boys saying there that Kalum King, Danny Savage who came on, they got black cards," he said.

"At one time he lifted the black card and I thought it was someone coming off.

"Somebody was injured in this corner, and the black book, I thought it was the old rule of getting the black book for the first foul before the yellow card."

He also revealed that Derry, like many other counties by this stage, have called in experienced officials to give them a better understanding of the new rules for Gaelic football.

"Barry Cassidy is an inter-county ref and he explained the rules to us, we are probably still confused about them all the same! We just have to get used to it and it's just one of those things."

Sport is always in a state of flux, and Derry became acquainted with another novelty on Sunday when they wore GPS tracking devices underneath their new jerseys, complete with the traditional, continuous hoop.

"We were thinking they were sports bras!" he joked.

"It's just one of those things that maybe it wasn't as important today, but come the end of the season in big games, you can see who is tired, who is not, and who to take off."

Belfast Telegraph


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