Friday, March 17, 2017

KILDARE have the chance to take a huge step towards Division 1 football next year if they can beat Down on Saturday evening in the Allianz National Football League but they face a tough task at Pairc Elser in Newry (7pm throw in).


Cathal McNally has been called into the Kildare team to replace Neil Flynn Photo: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Preparations for the game have been hampered by the loss of Neil Flynn because of an appendix operation. With Ben McCormack already ruled out with a hamstring injury, manager Cian O’Neill really could have done without losing another pacy inside forward. Chris Healy has stepped seamlessly into the team to replace McCormack and has scored goals in his last two games but without Flynn and McCormack the team may need to be reshuffled slightly to get the Two Mile House man a partner on the onside line.

Cathal McNally has been named in the team to replace Flynn but that wouldn’t appear to be a direct swap. Although McNally spent some time as a goal poaching corner forward when developing with his club, most of time with the county team has been a hard working wing forward. One possibility could be that he plays in the half forward line with Niall Kelly moved closer to goal but O’Neill may well be loathe to move the mercurial Athy man from the centre forward position. He has developed into Kildare’s playmaker and pulls the strings around the 45, but is he is an option.

So still some areas of concern for O’Neill but elsewhere, it’s very much as you were in what is developing into a very settled Kildare team. Kevin Feely had to be replaced in the first half last time out against Fermanagh after picking up a calf injury but he is fit to be named alongside Tommy Moolick in the team’s engine room.

Down had lost 14 games in a row over a two year period before bouncing back to win their last two games against Meath and Derry and they will take to the field with renewed confidence.

Having lost their last away game, to a last gasp goal in Derry, O’Neill’s side returned to form last time out when they impressively saw off Fermanagh and are on the search for their fourth win in five league games.

Kildare team:

  1. Mark Donnellan (Maynooth)
  2. Mick O’Grady (Celbridge)
  3. David Hyland (Athy)
  4. Ollie Lyons (Celbridge)
  5. Johnny Byrne (Allenwood)
  6. Eoin Doyle (Naas)
  7. Keith Cribbin (Johnstownbridge)
  8. Kevin Feely (Athy)
  9. Tommy Moolick (Leixlip)
  10. Fergal Conway (Celbridge)
  11. Niall Kelly (Athy)
  12. Paul Cribbin (Johnstownbridge)
  13. Cathal McNally (Johnstownbridge)
  14. Daniel Flynn (Johnstownbridge)
  15. Chris Healy (Two Mile House)

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