IT’S a crunch weekend for a number of Kildare teams as the GAA season moves into the month of June.
On Sunday at 3pm in Tullamore, Cian O’Neill’s footballers once again face Longford in a Leinster Football Championship quarter-final replay.
Last week’s drawn game was a difficult one to analysis. At seven points up in the second half, even playing into the wind, Kildare should have been able to see the game out but by the last kick of the game were left praying that James McGivney’s last gasp shot would miss the target. Kildare again seemed to have the game by the scruff of the neck after Jimmy Hyland’s first two senior championship points helped them into a three point lead in extra time but once more Longford clawed their way back into the game.
Although Kildare scored 1-21 and generally showed a much better understanding in their forward line, with Adam Tyrrell particularly impressive, defensive frailties let them down. Longford would have been delighted to score three goals but from a Kildare point of view each one of them was avoidable. As ever, Kildare go on Sunday looking for that illusive balance between incisive attacking play coupled with a solid defence.
Cian O’Neill has named the same starting 15 for the team – Mark Donnellan (Maynooth), Mark Dempsey (Moorefield), David Hyland (Athy), Mark Hyland (Athy), Peter Kelly (Two Mile House), Eoin Doyle (Naas), Keith Cribbin (Johnstownbridge), Kevin Feely (Athy), Fergal Conway (Celbridge), David Slattery (Confey), Ben McCormack (Sarsfields), Eoghan O’Flaherty (Carbury), Adam Tyrrell (Moorefield), Paddy Brophy (Celbridge), Neil Flynn (Maynooth).
Dublin in the Leinster semi-final await the winners, while the losers will go to Carlow in the first round of the Qualifiers, and there will definitely be a winner. If the teams are still level after 70 minutes, the game will go into the usual extra time. If there is still no separating the teams there will be a second period of extra time of two five minute halves. If after 190 minutes of football over the two games the two teams are still tied then a penalty taking competition will take place to determine the winner.
Before that, Kildare’s hurlers play London in Ruislip at 1pm on Saturday in the final group game in the Christy Ring Cup. Last time the teams met in the competition there was a trophy at stake when they played at Croke Park in the final but now it’s their competition status on the line. The losers of the game will finish bottom of Group 1 and will play in the relegation final against the bottom team from Group 2. Kildare won that last clash against London and anything less than a first Championship win under David Herity will leave Kildare one loss away from dropping into the Nicky Rackard Cup.
Herity has named his team – Paddy McKenna (Clane), Diarmuid Cahill (Coill Dubh), John Doran (Leixlip), Rian Boran (Naas), Niall O’Muineachain (Celbridge), Ross Kelly (Naas), Aran Kelly (Ardclough), Jack Travers (Leixlip), Paul Divilly (Confey), Kevin Whelan (Naas), Brian Byrne (Naas), James Burke (Naas), Martin Fitzgerald (Ardclough), Mark Delaney (Coill Dubh), Jack Sheridan (Naas).
Also on Saturday afternoon, the Kildare ladies begin their Leinster Intermediate Football Championship against Longford in St Conleths Park at 3pm.
Daniel Moynihan’s team also began their Division 3 campaign against the midlanders when an injury time Nessa Dooley goal earned them a narrow win. Kildare ultimately narrowly missed out on reaching the league semi-finals but there were some encouraging performances along the way, most notably an unfortunate defeat to eventual league champions Meath.
Kildare do have selection worries ahead of the game though. Suncroft’s Rebecca McGuirk was an ever present between the posts during the league but she has now departed for Australia so is unavailable. One potential replacement, Aoife Wosser, has a dislocated shoulder so is ruled out as well so Milltown youngster Cliodhna Malone is named as goalkeeper.
The full team is: Cliodhna Malone (Milltown), Rachel Cribbin (Balyna), Siobhan O’Sullivan (Eadestown), Shauna Kendrick (Sarsfields), Claire Sullivan (Carbury), Lara Gilbert (Kildangan-Nurney),Trina Duggan (Suncroft), Sarah Munnelly (Confey), Grace Clifford (Eadestown), Lara Curran (Milltown), Ciara Wheeler (St Laurences), Aoife Rattigan (Cappagh), Ellen Dowling (Suncroft), Nessa Dooley (Castledermot), Mikaela McKenna (Na Fianna).
At the same time on Saturday afternoon, Gay Campbell’s Under 20 footballers play their second game in the John Kerins Cup against Galway in Pearse Park in Longford.
The team put up a spirited second half showing against Dublin during the week when falling to a two goal defeat. Sarsfields’ Darragh Ryan is named as captain.
Kildare U20 team: Fionn Talbot (Kilcock), Conor Lynch (Maynooth), Sean Cullen (Naas), Daniel Reilly (Clane), Evin McGovern (Rathcoffey), Jack Sargent (Eadestown), Brian Stynes (Naas), James Carey (Carbury), Darragh Kirwan (Naas), Liam O’Flynn (Celbridge), Padraig Tuohy (Eadestown), Niall O’Sullivan (Maynooth), Darragh Ryan (Sarsfields), Colm Joyce (Naas), Jack Cully (Carbury).