| 13.8°C Dublin

LEINSTER FINAL Kildare might be a good side - but they're not one that can bring Dessie Farrell's Dublin down

Close

Kildare manager Jack O'Connor celebrates with Neil Flynn after their side's victory over Offaly in the Leinster SFC quarter-final

Kildare manager Jack O'Connor celebrates with Neil Flynn after their side's victory over Offaly in the Leinster SFC quarter-final

Kildare manager Jack O'Connor celebrates with Neil Flynn after their side's victory over Offaly in the Leinster SFC quarter-final

I have to laugh at people who say Dublin footballers haven’t put in a performance this year.

Maybe not a 70-minute one, but the first half of the Allianz League game against Kerry and the period between the tenth minute and half time of last month’s Leinster semi-final against Meath ought to frighten those who believe this team’s race is run and that we may just hand the Sam to a resurgent Kerry now.

There was enough football in those two spells to suggest to me that what Dublin are about this summer is what the great actor Sir Laurence Olivier called ‘timing, dear boy, timing.’

Dublin have known for months that they would play the Connacht champions on the third weekend of August.

If successful there, Kerry or an Ulster team would follow on the last Sunday of this month.

And those are the two matches on which this team will be judged in 2021 – nothing more, nothing less.

Handing out another hammering to a Leinster minnow is not what they are about.

Dessie Farrell will have known he can get through Leinster this year without the team hitting its stride.

He wants everything right to win the first of those two games and then go into the second, looking for another piece of history

It would help today if Dublin could get any or all of a full half-back line of injured men, Eoin Murchan, John Small and Robbie McDaid, back on the pitch at some point.

They may need them this afternoon, and a Johnny Cooper who is up to the mark, fitness-wise, ag ainst a Kildare team with top forwards such as Daniel and Neil Flynn, Jimmy Hyland and Darragh Kirwan.

They and their colleagues will score against Dublin this afternoon, and a decent amount at that.

Look at the results of Kildare club matches any weekend, big totals are always scored there – very few matches in the county end up 0-10 to 0-8.

The worry for Kildare is that, in spite of manager Jack O’Connor rebuilding their defence after last year’s five-goal hammering by Meath, whatever total those forwards can run up will still not be good enough to cause a massive shock.

Jack will know better than anyone that if the Westmeath forwards had brought their shooting-boots to the semi-final a fortnight ago, it would not be Sky Blue against White today – it would be Sky Blue against Maroon.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

It seems as though the Lilies’ regular centre half-back, Eoin Doyle, is out of the game through injury and he, like midfielder Kevin Feely, would be a big loss.

It’s hard enough to beat Dublin with a full team, let alone when short two key men.

Will Jack risk starting either man? After all there is no tomorrow after this game if you have lost.

But risking a big top player, and then having to take him off after a few minutes, is never a good sign. The Dublin hurlers know that!

The Dublin footballers have yet to get their act together for a full game this season, yes, that is obvious from their performances and from some unusual scorelines.

Close

Brian Howard can slot in at centre-back for the Dubs if it’s required.

Brian Howard can slot in at centre-back for the Dubs if it’s required.

Brian Howard can slot in at centre-back for the Dubs if it’s required.

But did you note how, when Meath got close to Dublin in the second half of the Leinster Final, Dublin’s key players stepped forward and sealed the deal.

It was James McCarthy, Brian Howard, Brian Fenton and Ciaran Kilkenny who steadied the ship and secured the three points that saw Dublin ease away again on the scoreboard.

It will be interesting for me to see, in spite of whatever team is announced, if Brian Howard ends up at centre-back this afteroon.

If John Small is not ready to come back, Howard may be handed the No 6 shirt, the man to step in at centre half-back and block up the channels to the Dublin goal in the way Cian O’Sullivan and Small himself did for so long.

Howard may be better known as a forward or midfielder, but he has the football brain to do that job.

In the forwards, Dean Rock will want to get another game under his belt too.

Cormac Costello will want to push the accelerator and get more scores for himself, or lay off the ball for others, so that he can cement his starting place.

Kildare beat Meath in a League play-off earlier to get promotion, so that should have Dublin warned.

The Lilies are a good side, but not yet the one that can bring Dublin down in the east.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy