Posted by Daragh Ó Conchúir

Johnny Doyle about the highs and lows of the season so far, the Meath man he thinks could have helped Kildare win an All-Ireland, the Cork native whose will to succeed is an inspiration and the man from Down whose entire life is an inspiration

Johnny Doyle 2Experience More chats with eircom GAA ambassador, Johnny Doyle about the highs and lows of the season so far, the Meath man he thinks could have helped Kildare win an All-Ireland, the Cork native whose will to succeed is an inspiration and the man from Down whose entire life is an inspiration.

EXPERIENCE MORE: You would know a good score when you see one, so we’re interested in what you think was the score of the season.
JOHNNY: Stephen O’Neill’s point against us in the league semi-final was a fantastic score

EXPERIENCE MORE: What was the save of the season?
JOHNNY: I’ll keep it local and say the penalty save by ‘Stan’ (Shane Connolly) in our qualifier against Tyrone in Newbridge.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Anything catch your eye in a tactical sense this year?
JOHNNY: Everyone is talking about negative tactics - blanket defence is the buzzword - and then you look at Kerry and Dublin having a shootout. It is nice to see that entertainment comes into it a small bit still.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What was the disappointment of the season?
JOHNNY: For us it would be the Leinster semi-final defeat against Dublin. The manner in which we played that day was disappointing.

EXPERIENCE MORE: If you were to name Footballer of the Year in the morning, who would it be?
JOHNNY: You’re going to have to look at either Aidan O’Shea or Michael Darragh Macauley. The two of them play different games. Michael Darragh goes forward a lot while Aidan O’Shea is probably stronger in the air and plays more of a holding role. It will depend on who wins the All-Ireland but who wins on the All-Ireland could depend on who plays best of those two.

EXPERIENCE MORE: If you could transfer any player from any era into the Kildare team that you think would help you win an All-Ireland, who would it be?
JOHNNY: Colm O’Rourke was a great finisher but like everyone on that Meath team he played on, he was tough too. He’d play football with you but if you wanted to give it to him hard, he’d give it to you hard back. He had everything.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who has given your team the most memorable motivational speech ever - from inside or outside the camp?
JOHNNY: There have been a few of them but from a non-GAA world it would be Mark Pollock. He is a serious operator. His will and his fight to survive is unbelievable. He got blind at 22, fought that, travelled to the South Pole. And then, three years ago, he fell out of a balcony and was paralysed. It was an amazing story. There were a lot of things you could take out of it. It made you realise that there are a lot more important things than football, but also, the thing is, when all the odds look like they’re stacked against you, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The more they told him ‘no’, the more he wanted to do things. It was inspirational.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What's the toughest training camp/day/weekend ye have ever done?
JOHNNY: Some of the winter sessions are terrible. You get wet and cold; you just can’t get warm. There was one we did on a freezing winter night in Ellistown when ‘Geezer’ (Kieran McGeeney) came first. It was freezing night, it lashed rain and I thought I was going to get hypothermia. It just didn’t ever look like stopping. It was brutal. I remember shaking in the shower afterwards and I just couldn’t get warm.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who is the joker on the panel?
JOHNNY: That’s Brian Flanagan. He’d bury you with a couple of comments very quickly.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who is the best trainer?
JOHNNY: Emmet Bolton.

EXPERIENCE MORE: Who is the best and worst dressed?
I’ll say Dermot Earley is the best dressed… he likes the look of himself. Rob Kelly is the worst.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What player from another sport do you most admire?
JOHNNY: Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with what he has said and done, with Saipan or anything else, Roy Keane was an amazing player. Another man who succeeded regardless of the odds stacked against him. He was hard-working and had huge belief in his ability. When he was a young lad he met a wall. “No, you’re too small”, “No, you’re too something else”. He had a vision and was a very driven man. You’d have to give him huge credit for that.

EXPERIENCE MORE: What manager from another sport do you admire?
JOHNNY: Alex Ferguson for the way he put the club ahead of any player. To be able to manage a bunch of superstars like he did and keep them hungry time and time again so that they continued to be successful, was brilliant.


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