How many times have we heard the saying in Laois that ‘I’ll never go and see them play again’, and this was very much to the fore of peoples thoughts after the Dublin game.
Now, four weeks later, there aren’t too many around the county in the football circles that will not be in O’Moore Park this Saturday evening, knowing that if things go right the summer may be a little more enjoyable.
I don’t think there won’t be any favourites in this game. Kildare may have put up a better showing against Dublin, and they were unlucky not to get a replay after a very harsh call by the referee with the last kick of the ball, but on the day Dublin were probably the better side.
Like this Saturday evening, though, with a little luck anything may be possible. Under Kieran McGeeney Kildare have done very well in the back door system, and were extremely unlucky not to be in an All-Ireland final last year. I do think, however, that they were playing much better football last year. James Kavanagh in the forwards was nearly unplayable, and although John Doyle is still their main man they do miss him closer to the goals.
If Daryl Flynn makes it back from injury it may free up Doyle to move closer to goal. The last day Laois did look a much free flowing team, and on paper it was probably the best team they had out all year. In a way it reminds you of the way McGeeney started his career with Kildare, Leinster did not seem a route he relished, instead preferring the back door, and maybe we are now starting down the same route.
I wouldn’t have a problem with it if that’s the plan, and we were in the same position Kildare were in after last year.
On the team, I can’t see too many changes from the last day. We played well in spite of giving Tipperary a good few chances. We made at least five goal opportunities ourselves, and I would rather see us go out fighting and playing to our advantage.
Where will the game be won and lost? As always, the middle of the park is half the battle. Padraig Clancy could have a big say, he has been involved in these games for a long time now and his experience will be hugely important. Brendan Quigley was honest the last day but had 5/6 massive catches which he lost at the last second. There is no doubt that he has the talent, and getting this aspect of his game right could be the winning of the game.
The backs did well the last day and proved that they did not require the forwards sitting beside them while doing their job. If the half forward line could play as they played in the first fifteen minutes the last day they would be much more beneficial to the team, having three half forwards behind the ball is of no real advantage.
In fairness, Niall Donoher did hold his shape better and was an option in the later stages of the first half. Colm Begley scored a goal and a point the last day because he was close enough to the inside line when they won the ball.
If Donie Kingston and Ross Munnelly play close to the goal and quick ball is played to them, they will be very hard to stop, especially Kingston. This game is his bread and butter and having him drift out the field is alien to him at this level.
MJ Tierney would be a much more complete player if he could release the ball quicker, he can make the killer passes, but you don’t need to do it every time.
This is an evenly balanced game, with Kildare’s experience a huge factor. As it stands, it’s just too close to call.