McGoldrick preview: Kildare -vs- Kerry

Eamonn Fitzmaurice
Eamonn Fitzmaurice

Let's be honest – even the Kildare fans are surprised that their team have reached the last eight.

With five minutes to go in their first round Leinster championship clash against Laois they trailed by three points and were playing into a gale force wind. At that moment the chances of them making the next round of the provincial series, never mind the All-Ireland quarter finals were very remote.

Kildare showed admirable fighting qualities to secure a draw that evening and save for an compelte collapse against Dublin this never say die spirit has sustained them through the summer. 

They have played more games in the championship – six – than any other team and through a process of elimination they have come across their best 15. Interestingly neither Tommy Moolick nor Niall Kelly – their two most influential players in their shock win over Cork – started against Laois in the drawn encounter.

Under Eamon Fitzmaurice Kerry tend to do just enough to win quarter-finals; they failed to score a goal and beat Cavan by just six points in 2013 while last year they hit a few speed humps and conceding two goals before eventually overcoming Galway by seven points.

This time around they have had the benefit of an extra competitive game, though for all the plaudits they garnered for their replay win over Cork the reality is that the game was there for the taking for either team up until Paul Geaney’s goal.

The outcome of the midfield battle between David Moran and Anthony Maher and the less street wise but more mobile Kiildare pairing of Tommy Moolick and Paul Cribben will be both fascinating and crucial.

For Kildare to have any shock of pulling off a major shock Cribben will have to shackle Moran, who single handedly ran this sector against Cork. The Kerry defence is vulnerable when run at and this is Kildare’s forte.

They are a confidence team and if allowed to build momentum as they did against Cork they could rattle Kerry.

But the All-Ireland champions has only lost one All-Ireland quarter final (2010) since the introduction of the qualifiers and ought to reach their 18th All-Ireland semi-final since 1996 -  the only years they missed out on were 1999 and 2010. Not even Kilkenny hurlers can match that record!

Verdict: Kerry.

Kildare v Kerry, 2.00pm, Croke Park, Live on RTE 2.