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New Kildare manager Jack O'Connor aims to recruit the county's best footballers
Last Updated: 10/09/19 6:23pm
Kildare's new senior football manager Jack O'Connor has highlighted the importance of getting the best footballers in the county onto the squad.
In recent seasons, some players have opted out of the Lilywhites squad for a variety of reasons, but Kerry native O'Connor is keen for the side to maximise their potential.
"There's good footballers in Kildare. It's just a matter for us now to try and get the best players available into the panel, and try and make a proper team out of them," he said in an interview with Kfm.
"My intention is to try and have the best players in Kildare involved in the panel next year. Sometimes that's not possible for personal reasons - players go travelling or whatever, and that's OK. You have to respect that.
"But we'll try and get the best players in Kildare in, and give ourselves the best chance of success.
"Dublin have shown the last few years - it's the strength of the panel that's pushing them to greater heights. If players get complacent and they're in a comfort zone, that's not a good place to be."
Under Cian O'Neill, the county made progress as they won promotion to Division 1 of the National Football League, and reached the Super 8s.
However, in 2018, they were relegated from the league's top tier, and O'Connor has prioritised a return.
"At this juncture, it would seem like a priority to try and get promotion from Division 2, because you really want to be in with the big guns in Division 1, try and consolidate in Division 1 because that's where the real action is," he noted.
"Now Division 2 is very competitive when you see the teams that are in there. Two good teams coming down last year - Roscommon and Cavan - you saw what Roscommon did this year. They really have improved.
"It's going to be a difficult ask, but that would be our first priority, to get promotion out of Division 2."
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O'Connor hasn't managed at senior intercounty level since 2012, but he has no fears that he may have lost touch with the modern game.
"I've been involved in some shape or form right up to this year. I don't think it will be that difficult to transition. The game certainly has become faster, it's become more attritional, it's become more defensive at times.
"That's a challenge in itself. But that's where the joy of coaching comes in - the challenge of trying to break down stuff like that."
As for the hype and expectation that comes with a three-time All-Ireland winning manager joining up with a county of such potential, O'Connor sees it as no bad thing.
He added: "There's plenty of expectation in Kerry, and in Kildare as well. It's no harm. That drives players. It would be a lot worse if they had low expectation, because that could demotivate players."
Watch Dublin vs Kerry in the All-Ireland final replay live on Sky Sports Arena from 5pm on Saturday.