Dublin look to have too much strength in all areas for Kildare
Preview: Leinster SFC semi-final – Dublin v Kildare, Croke Park, 4.0
Kildare will have their hands full trying to prevent Diarmuid Connolly (left) and Paul Flynn from spraying kick passes into the danger zone and keeping tabs on the full forwards. Photograph: Inpho
In two-year increments Kildare’s challenge to Dublin has slipped away since the 2009 Leinster final. The tale is told most graphically by the bookmakers’ odds: in 2009 Dublin were 1 to 2 to win, two years later had loosened slightly to 8 to 15 before starting at 1 to 4 in 2013 and this weekend the champions are available at 1 to 40.
If those odds look tight for the first two matches, which were won by a single point, the margin two years ago had stretched to 16 points and now many Kildare people would settle for a bit of defiance and defeat by less than double digits.
The prescription is well known at this stage: play it tight early on and make Dublin scramble and so, keep the prospect of the second half at least interesting.
The dilemma with Dublin is whether to sit back slightly and allow them run at the fortifications and hope to snarl them up at the gates by weight of numbers - or to press at the risk of leaving space into which the champions can flood.
Kildare’s game plan will surely involve an auxiliary defender, probably Eamonn Callaghan, dropping back to provide cover. They will have to exert greater pressure than Longford managed with their cavalry-against-Panzers, orthodox marking set-up.
By the 21st minute Dublin had recorded no wides and scored 1-9: impressive but not snatched from high-pressure defence. Dublin also coughed up an early - unconverted - goal chance against Longford but Kildare know from harsh experience two years ago that even a good start doesn’t guarantee much against the champions.
Having yielded up two very good goal chances early in the quarter-final replay, Kildare know they’ll have to tighten up on that. Interestingly, since winning the 2011 All-Ireland Dublin have lost just twice, to Donegal and Mayo. These were the only championship matches they failed to score a goal during this period.
Kildare’s matches against Laois were as good an antidote to the disappointments of the spring as Jason Ryan could have hoped for. Having snatched the draw the first day they impressively dynamited the opposition after half-time with an unanswered 2-3, giving themselves both another day out and a morale-boosting win.
The problem is that they will have to hold the line in all sorts of areas, stopping the Dublin half backs breaking forward at pace, preventing Diarmuid Connolly and Paul Flynn from spraying kick passes into the danger zone and keeping tabs on the full forwards when they do – and keep it up as reinforcements arrive from the bench.
It’s too much strain to take over 70 minutes.
Last meeting: 2013 Leinster semi-final, Croke Park, Dublin 4-16, Kildare 1-9.
Odds: Dublin 1 to 40, Kildare 12 to 1 and 40 to 1 the draw.
Injuries: Kildare have lost centre back Fergal Conway to an eye-socket injury. Eoin Doyle steps in.
Just the ticket: Available on the day, stand €30, terrace €20, juvenile €5. Senior citizen and student concessions (€15 rebate) available for Cusack and Davin Stand.
Verdict: Dublin to win.
DUBLIN: To be announced.
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Ciarán Fitzpatrick, Mick O’Grady, Ollie Lyons; Kevin Murnaghan, Emmet Bolton, Eoin Doyle; Gary White, Paul Cribbin; Pádraig O’Neill, Eoghan O’Flaherty, Cathal McNally; Eamonn Callaghan, Alan Smith, Pádraig Fogarty. Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)