Although we’re only 20 days into January, Kildare’s senior football team already have a chance to reach their first final of the year.
Having won last year’s National League Division 2 title before bowing out of the championship against Cork, the Lilies almost got their hands on silverware at the start of 2012 as well when they were narrowly beaten in the O’Byrne Cup Final. While it won’t be a priority for Kieran McGeeney’s side, the Armagh man will still be looking for a victory today when the Lilies face Offaly in Tullamore at 2pm in their semi-final meeting.
The game will be Kildare’s first away trip of the year having racked up three successive wins on home turf in the group stages of the revamped O’Byrne Cup. Wins against Carlow IT, Dublin IT and Wexford ensured Kildare topped Group D while today’s opponents had a 100 per cent record with success against Laois (1-11 to 1-8), Athlone IT (3-11 to 1-10) and Westmeath (0-9 to 0-8). On the evidence of both sides’ respective performances to date, they should be evenly matched today with almost identical scoring returns so far (44 points in total for Kildare, Offaly with 42) while their defences have been as mean as each other, conceding just 10 points on average each.
Kildare will be favourites today given their recent record against the Faithful county but they’ll need to repeat their early second half showing against Wexford and avoid the near-collapse at the finish of that game if they’re to reach the O’Byrne Cup final again.
PREDICTION: Kildare by 3