Kildare boss Kieran McGeeney at crossroads
Kieran McGeeney currently finds himself at a crossroads in his current role as Kildare manager.
A demi-god in a county which he has brought into the last eight of the All-Ireland title race in each of the four years he has been in charge to date, McGeeney still finds the ultimate glory eluding a side that is regarded as perhaps the fittest in the country.
And as he ponders his future, the 2002 Armagh All-Ireland winning captain can with considerable justification point to two vital refereeing decisions that by and large shaped his team’s destiny this year.
In the dying moments of the Leinster final against Dublin, Kildare defender Andrew MacLchlainn was controversially penalised for fouling Bernard Brogan even though it looked nothing more than an innocuous tangle of legs.
But with the match delicately poised at 0-11 each, Brogan whipped over the resultant free to send Pat Gilroy side’s into the final against Wexford.
McGeeney and his players licked their wounds and embarked on their qualifiers which took them to victories over Laois, Meath and Derry before they confronted Donegal on Saturday.
And here again fate dealt McGeeney and his team a cruel blow. When full-forward Tómas O’Connor finished a rebound to the Donegal net in the 40th minute he appeared to have put the Lily Whites on the road to victory.
But while one umpire, somewhat hesitantly, raised the green flag to signal the score referee David Coldrick quickly intervened to overrule him and the score was disallowed as the latter believed that O’Connor had been in the small square before he gained possession even though television replays indicated otherwise.
Within four minutes Donegal had tacked on three points through Michael Murphy, Ryan Bradley and Dermot Molloy that revived their morale, further cemented their belief and proved the catalyst for a more expanisve approach which ultimately took them into the semi-finals.
Even though the ultimate prize is proving elusive, Kildare officials are anxious to retain McGeeney’s services.
For such a fierce competitor as McGeeney this is difficult to accept. While several sides including his native Armagh would no doubt covet his services, he is unlikely to be rushed into any decisions.
But he has surely grounds for hoping that the rub of the green which appears to have deserted him and his side on big occasions is merely taking temporary leave of absence.