Cian O'Neill says he's stepping down as Kildare football boss after four years as they've 'frustratingly' not reached their potential.
The Newbridge man led the Lilywhites from Division Three to Division One of the League, contested the 2017 Leinster final and played in last year's Super 8s following a win over Mayo in the last round of the qualifiers at Newbridge.
But a third-round qualifier loss to Tyrone ended their six game run in the Championship this summer and O'Neill informed Kildare County Board last night that he wouldn't be returning for a fifth season in charge.
The former Kerry football and Tipperary hurling physical coach, who is working in Cork, added in a statement that it was an 'honour and privilege' to manage his native county.
"Having recently informed the Players, Management and Backroom, I met with the Co. Board yesterday to inform them of my decision to step down from my role as Kildare Senior Football Team Manager. As a proud Kildare man, it was an honour and privilege to have been given the opportunity to work with an exceptional group of players, each one of us doing our best to represent our clubs and county with distinction at all times. Unfortunately, the successes of consecutive promotions from Division 3 to Division 1, a 1st Leinster Final in 8 years and progression to the Super 8’s in 2018 was met with equal disappointment across these 4 years where frustratingly we didn’t always reach our potential as a group. As Manager, this is my greatest regret and ultimately my responsibility, and this undoubtedly informed my decision to step away from this role. This will hopefully leave time and space for my successor and the chosen group of players to take the challenge to a new level under a new direction.
"To my friends and colleagues in the Management Team – Alan, Tom and Karl – and also to those who went before you, thank you for bringing an unbridled level of trust, loyalty, passion and excellence to the set up; something that the players and I will be forever indebted to you for, on both a personal and professional level. To the team behind the team, a sincere thank you to each and every member of the Backroom whose professionalism and expertise helped to create a high performance environment that many professional sports teams would be envious of. And finally to an incredible bunch of players … it was truly an honour to have worked with you all over the last 4 years. Your effort, diligence and commitment to be the best player you could be was what kept us all going in difficult times and laid the foundation for our relative successes in the good times. Your journey is only starting in many ways – every season takes on a life of its own – so I look forward to watching and supporting you all in the months and years ahead. There is so much uncertainty in sport and life, but one thing that I am certain of is that you are a credit to your club, your county and your families.
"Finally, to my wife, Tammy; father, Peter; and all of my family and friends; I thank you for your unrelenting and unwavering support, belief and patience ever since this journey began. I couldn’t have given all that I gave to this role without your backing and support. After 4 years of travelling from Cork to Kildare 3-4 times a week, and with it a level of commitment and selfishness that means other aspects of life undoubtedly suffer, it’s time to hand the baton over.
"Thanks for everything men – Cill Dara Abú.."