Having seen Dublin end the Leinster hopes of the seniors and ladies over the last weekend, Kildare’s minors will hope to make it third time lucky at Parnell Park in the Leinster semi-final this Saturday afternoon (3pm).
The omens though are not good as Byran Murphy heads into his 20th championship game in charge of the minors. During that time Kildare have lost five games, three of them to the Dubs and they have finished Kildare’s season at the same stage for the past two seasons.
“They (Dublin) are the bar, we just need to go and play them and look forward to it. I think the fellas are looking forward to it, I hope they are,” said manager Bryan Murphy.
“We are happy with what we have but it will come down to what happens on the day. We have no stars but we have 15 or 20 lads who are willing to work for each other, hopefully that will be enough to get us over the line.”
Kildare have yet to be really tested in their Leinster campaign on their way to the last four. First up was the rather facile 2-29 to 0-1 win over Kilkenny. While a footballing win over Kilkenny is almost taken for granted it was encouraging that Kildare spread their scores throughout the whole team. All six starting forwards got on the scoresheet that day as did five of the six defenders, three players who came in from the sideline also contributed on the scoresheet.
That set Kildare up for a quarter-final tie against an Offaly team who had scored six goals against Meath to reach that stage. However, they were swatted aside with ease by Murphy’s men. Captain Mark Sherry of Two Mile House, Tommy Cribbin of Clane and Moorefield’s Ryan Houlihan grabbed the goals in a 3-11 to 0-5 win.
While doubts persist about the quality of the opposition so far it would appear that this Kildare team have a lot to offer going forward. Wayne Fitzpatrick kicked the winning point when his club Monasterevan won a Leinster intermediate title last year, Chris Healy and Neil Flynn are also consistent and reliable scorers. There is no shortage of bulk either and Sherry, Paschal Connell, Jamie Flynn, Niall Fleming, Paul Mescall, and brother of senior star Daniel Flynn, Luke won’t be found wanting in the physical stakes.
Dublin’s progress to the last four has been unremarkable. They beat Louth 1-9 to 1-7 after extra-time and then Wexford by 0-17 to 0-9. Louth had Dublin on the rack in the opening game and were just minutes away from a shock win before Con O’Callaghan fisted a last gasp equalising score. The Cuala forward then scored the only two points in extra-time and went on to score four points against Wexford. It wouldn’t be a Dublin underage side without a glut of talented forwards and O’Callaghan will be one to watch for Kildare. In defence, Jack Mullins and Eoin Murchan caught the eye against Wexford. The Dubs did suffer a blow though last month when influential midfielder Eoghan O’Donnell suffered a fractured tibia in a challenge game and he will miss out.
Dublin manager Cyril Kevlihan was in charge when the two sides met in the 2009 Leinster final. That game ended in a draw, as did the replay before Dublin triumphed after extra-time. That year was as close as Kildare got to lifting silverware under Bryan Murphy but Saturday will be seen as opportunity to right a few wrongs from the past few years. Meath and Westmeath will contest the semi-final on the other side of the draw in Navan at the same time as the Kildare match.