Friday, February 02, 2018

KILDARE’S worst fears regarding the injury picked up by Neil Flynn last Saturday evening in Croke Park have been realised – and Kevin Feely and Paddy Brophy are also major doubts for Sunday’s visit of Monaghan (St Conleths Park, 2pm).

Neil Flynn is unlikely to play again in this year’s league
Photo: @INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

The luckless Maynooth corner forward will miss the next six weeks at least after tearing his hamstring with barely two minutes on the clock during the defeat at the hands of Dublin. It means the 22 year is unlikely to feature in the remainder of Kildare’s league season and is a huge blow to both the player himself and manager Cian O’Neill.

Flynn made his Kildare debut in the first league of 2016 against Westmeath, but had an injury hit 2017. He played in the first four league games last year but had to undergo an an appendix operation in mid March. After getting back fit in time for the start of the Championship, a hamstring injury restricted him to just one substitute appearance late on in the Leinster semi-final win against Meath.

O’Neill does at least have plenty of options to replace Flynn. David Slattery, who replaced Flynn early on at Croke Park, is an option to come in to the starting line, as is Niall Kelly. Ben McCormack made a lively cameo appearance near the end of the Dublin game and is another pushing for inclusion. Chris Healy, who played Sigerson Cup football for IT Carlow on Wednesday, lined out at centre half forward against Dublin but would be equally at home closer to goal.

There are further injury concerns in the form of Feely and Brophy, who are both major doubts for Sunday’s crucial game. Although Feely felt no ill effects from a knee to the head suffered in the second half of that Dublin game, the calf injury that forced him to be substituted meant he missed out on the midweek Sigerson Cup tie for IT Carlow. He is now in a race against time to prove his fitness for Sunday’s game.

Brophy was listed among the substitutes for last week’s game but was never likely to make it off the bench after aggravating a back injury in the week leading into the game. He didn’t train on Tuesday and like Feely, is a big concern for Kildare. Keith Cribbin’s injured shoulder continues to rule him out as well.

Sunday’s visitors to St Conleths Park, Monaghan, are not without their own problems. Star man Conor McManus missed last Sunday’s one point defeat to Mayo and is thought unlikely to feature while Ryan Wylie will serve a suspension after being shown a straight red card late on against Mayo.

It’s Monaghan’s first game in Newbridge since November 2000, a game that saw a certain Johnny Doyle score his first even senior goal for Kildare.

There have been nine meetings between the two counties in the league and championship since the start of the 80s and the Ulster side have won six, including the last two, a fourth round Qualifier tie in 2014 and a Division 2 league game in 2012. Joe McQuillian was the referee for that game in Clones and he will again be the man in the middle on Sunday.

The Cavan man is a familiar face to Kildare supporters and Sunday will be his 15th Kildare game to take charge of the Lilywhites. Kildare have won on the last two occasions, against Meath in the Leinster semi-final last year and a qualifier tie in Clare in 2013, but had lost the previous six games refereed by McQuillan.

After both sides lost their opening round of this year’s Allianz National Football League, Sunday’s game is of massive importance given that the loser will be left staring into a relegation battle.

The game is of particular importance to Kildare given that it is the first of their four home games in this season. Since losing all three home games when being relegated from Division 2 in 2015, Newbridge has become something of a fortress again under Cian O’Neill. Kildare won six out of seven home league games during the last two successful promotion seasons and have won the last five games at the venue, including a qualifier tie against Offaly in 2016.

The Kildare team will be named on Friday evening after training.

Elsewhere this weekend, the Kildare hurlers will also be looking to bounce back from an opening round defeat when they play Westmeath Division 2A of the Allianz National Hurling League in Cusack Park on Sunday at 12.30pm.

Joe Quaid’s team were beaten by three points by Meath last week and know how important it is to get that first win of the season under their belts as soon as possible.

Another Kildare team hoping to get their first win of the season is the Kildare ladies team. They didn’t play last weekend after Leitrim couldn’t field a team so they begin their Division 3 campaign against Offaly in Edenderry on Saturday at 2pm.

New manager Daniel Moynaghan has named his team which is captained by Roisin Byrne. Former Sligo intercounty player Siobhan O’Sullivan is picked at midfield alongside Aisling Curley while both Caoimhe Keoghegan and Emer Fogarty return to the Kildare line up.

The weekend also sees the first club action of the new with the newly formed under 20 league beginning on Sunday morning.

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