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Kildare preparations for 1958 National League Final

Leinster Leader 15 May 2008

Last minute changes as Kildare All-Whites

take on the Dubs at Croke Park

by

LIAM KENNY


The white bunting was being broken out all over Kildare in 1958 as the county geared up for a National League Final with the Dubs after a scintillating campaign by the All-Whites.

In a preview to the game in the Leader of 17 May an article bye-lined ‘Scoop’ discussed late changes to the Kildare line-up. Since the semi-final against Tyrone the Kildare defence had been drastically altered. ‘Scoop’ was concerned about the ability of the new Kildare back-line to resist the Dubs: ‘Whether these new look backlines will stand up to the ingenuity of the Dublin forwards spearheaded by Olly Freaney and Kevin Heffernan is a matter of conjecture.’ ‘Scoop’ was not at all confident about the wisdom of the Kildare selectors in the changes they made in advance of the big game: ‘The selectors may have made an injudicious move by breaking-up the half-line partnership of Gibbons, Carolan and Connolly, by moving the latter into Toss McCarthy’s place, for in the Tyrone game Kildare’s real defence lay in that line.’

Continuing his commentary on the changes Scoop reported: ‘Peter Maguire, injured in the semi, returns to the side, not to his old place at centre-field, but to the left-half back position vacated by Pa Connolly, a new position for him in county football. The other changes see Seam McCormack take over from the injured ‘Son’ Byrne. Thus regular Danny Flood is flanked by two players who, as I have seen them, play their best football in the half-backs.’

Scoop posed a rhetorical question: ‘Will these positional switches and change work out? The answer to that query is of paramount important as far as Kildare’s chances are concerned because it is possible that the game will be won and lost for the county in the back-lines.’   The forward division got a clean bill of health according to Scoop’+s punditry: ‘The forwards have proved themselves as accurate and opportune as any attack in the country and the midfield partnership of tom Connolly and Paddy Moore should at least hold their own.’

Calling the result Scoop summed up: ‘… if the backs click as a sound and capable defence, and the midfield manage to hold their own, I look forward to Kildare returning to the county as League champions as a result of the edge the Kildare forwards should have over the Metropolitan defence.’

Elsewhere on the sports page the path of the All-Whites (note the Leader usage of the 1950s was ‘All Whites’ not ‘Lilywhites’) to the final was recounted. Since November 1957 Kildare had played 13 matches and had only one suffered one defeat – a surprise beating by Carlow.  When Kildare beat Cork in the first round All-White supporters were surprised by the Kildare display, but they held out little hope of overcoming Kerry in a later game. Indeed some of Kildare’s most ardent supporters could see nothing good in the present Kildare and predicted a ‘snow-under for the All-Whites.’  However the Kildare men again surprised the home-grown sceptics by beating the Kingdom and Kildare followers ‘began to realise that our team was not so weak as some maintained.’ The victory roll had continued in the early spring with a win away over Wexford but a reality check came from an unexpected direction when the All-Whites went to contest neighbouring county Carlow: ‘ they faced Carlow away and it must be said that the players were over-confident of the result. Carlow taught our players a lesson and it was lucky for the all-whites that they had a replay for the Group honours.  A hard-earned win over Tipperary and a strong performance against Tyrone had brought the county to the verge of national league success – a cause of great excitement in the county which had not experienced GAA success at a national level since the great All-Ireland wins of the 1920s.

The Kildare team for the National Football League final was listed (starting from the goal-keeper and working out) as: M. Nolan, S. McCormack, D. Flood, P. Connolly, P. Gibbons, M. Carolan, P. Maguire, T. Connolly, P. Moore, C. Kelly, L.McCormack, K.O’Malley, E. Treacy, J. Dowling, E.Hogan: subs – M. Doyle, J. Fitzsimons, P. Timmons, F. White, J.Doyle, B. Kehoe, F. Timmons.

The Dublin team included a number of household names and was listed as: P. O’Flaherty, M. Wilson, J.Timmons, J.Brennan, C.O’Leary, J.Crowley, J.Boyle, S.Murray, P.Downey, P.Haughey, O.Freaney, D.Ferguson, P.Farnan, J.Joyce, and K. Heffernan. Subs: P. Flynn, J. Lavin, M.Whelan, L.Foley. B. Morris and C. Leaney.

The curtain raiser to the National League senior final at Croke Park was a game between the Kildare and Dublin minors. The Kildare side was listed with their respective clubs, as follows: ‘G. Connolly (Athgarvan), W Murphy (Ballymore), B O’Sullivan (Naas), E McCormack (Round Towers), J Barker (Kilcullen), M Geraghty (Sarsfields), N Rochford (Athy), T Merriman (Clane), J Morrissey (Athy), P Tyrrell (Carbury), J Carroll (Army Apprentice School), P Cummins (Carbury), J. Doyle ( St. Mary’s), P. Kilgannon (AAS), S. Connolly Clane; subs: M. Goss (Kildoon), G Coll (Sarsfields), P Little (Naas), J Mulpeter (Rathangan), T Cahill (Athy), A Flynn (Sarsfields).’

Series No. 67

A look at 1958 as the county geared up for a National League Final with the Dubs after a scintillating campaign by the All-Whites, by Liam Kenny in his regular column, 'Nothing New Under the Sun,' Leinster Leader 15 May 2008.


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