NFL previews Divisions One and Two
A look head to the weekend's matches
NFL DIVISION ONE
Kildare v Donegal Croke Park, 5pm(Live, Setanta Ireland) – The All-Ireland champions name a very strong team for this league opener with 13 – All Stars Karl Lacey and Neil Gallagher are likely to miss most of the league – of the side having started last September, but appearances can deceive.
Some of the players are in reasonable nick and Michael Murphy was in top form for DCU during the week in the Sigerson, but some haven’t kicked a ball with intent since autumn club matches.
Furthermore , having just returned from holiday in Dubai two weeks ago, they have little more than a handful of sessions done.
Kildare, on the other hand, have been able to put down a solid training base and came through an intense pre-season programme culminating in last weekend’s O’Byrne Cup final when they surged past Dublin in extra-time.
Kieran McGeeney rests some of the impressive younger players from that match but his team have enough done to take the points here.
DONEGAL: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee; F McGlynn, D Walsh, A Thompson; R Kavanagh, M McElhinney; M McHugh, L McLoone, R Bradley; C McFadden, M Murphy, P McBrearty.
KILDARE: S Connolly; O Lyons, P Kelly, H McGrillen; E Bolton, M Foley, M Conway; G White, P O’Neill; B Flanagan, C McNally, E O’Flaherty; S Johnston, T O’Connor, J Doyle.
Dublin v Cork Croke Park, 7pm(Live, Setanta Ireland)– Contrasting blends of youth and experience for the teams who preceded Donegal as All-Ireland champions. Jim Gavin selects eight of the 2011 team for duty tonight but the inclusion of some of the younger players more familiar to him from his under-21 days is partly enforced with half of the defence from two years ago – Cian O’Sullivan, Kevin Nolan and Michael Fitzsimons – on the way back from injury.
Conor Counihan has been more conservative in his Cork selection, with just Damien Cahalane making a league debut this evening.
Still that leaves them experienced and physically well equipped. Centrefield will be interesting, as Alan O’Connor and Aidan Walsh return to the scene of last summer’s difficulties against Donegal to face a Dublin pairing, minus the suspended Denis Bastick, of an in-form Michael Darragh Macauley and Declan O’Mahony trying to rebuild a once promising career gravely undermined by chronic injury.
Their less experimental line-up edges it towards Cork.
DUBLIN: S Cluxton; J Cooper, R O’Carroll, K O’Brien; D Daly, G Brennan, J McCaffrey; MD Macauley, D O’Mahony; P Flynn, P Andrews, P Quinn; K McManamon, D Connolly, B Brogan.
CORK: K O’Halloran; E Cadogan, M Shields, J O’Sullivan; P Kissane, G Canty, D Cahalane; A O’Connor, A Walsh; F Goold, P O’Neill, C Sheehan; C O’Neill, D O’Connor, P Kerrigan. Subs: D Lordan, J McLoughlin, E O’Mahony, N O’Leary, T Clancy, D O’Sullivan, A O’Sullivan, J O’Rourke, B O’Driscoll, M Collins