Kildare can snap out of it in time to take care of Offaly

Niall McNamee in race to be fit after missing qualifier victory over Waterford

Niall McNamee has been the talisman for Offaly since the mid-2000s. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Niall McNamee has been the talisman for Offaly since the mid-2000s. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

This isn’t a bad draw for either team although both are undermined by injury concerns. The main task for Kildare is psychological in that turning around a 19-point defeat in six days takes a fair bit of mental resolve.

On the plus side, they’ve been here before, recovering from championship disaster in the qualifiers, and need to re-assert the form of the quarter-final dusting-down of Laois.

Their problems against Dublin were to do with power and pace – even with men back, they couldn’t counter the opposition’s movement and ability to break tackles – and Offaly won’t be able to replicate that this afternoon.

Pat Flanagan’s team recuperated from their own disappointing home defeat by Longford in the Leinster first round by pocketing a win over Waterford. The ambiguity over Niall McNamee’s prospects of playing place a question mark over the capacity of their attack.

Pressure

Flanagan was disappointed by his team’s mental reaction to losing the initiative against Longford and they will be under further pressure this afternoon.

Injury and withdrawal have weakened Kildare’s defence but you’d still fancy them to have enough in hand to cope with the home attack, especially if McNamee doesn’t appear.

They will also need to sharpen up their finishing because, even allowing for the lightweight defending, Kildare added to their burden by poor shooting in Croke Park.

They won’t be facing the same claustrophobic attentions today and can score enough to give themselves a shot at reconstituting their season in the qualifiers.

Last meeting: 2013 Leinster quarter-final, Kildare 0-19, Offaly 1-10.
Odds: Offaly 5/2, Kildare 4/9 and 15/2 the draw.
Injuries: Kildare are missing Fergal Conway after eye surgery, while Ollie Lyons and Emmet Bolton picked up injuries against Dublin. Offaly’s main doubt is Niall McNamee, who missed the round 1A win over Waterford, his first championship absence.
Suspension: None.
Just the ticket: €15 and juveniles €5. Concession available for students and senior citizens.
OFFALY: A Mulhall; B Darby, P McConway (capt.), C Donohue; N Darby, J Moloney, J O’Connor; C McNamee, N Smith; P Cunningham, G Guilfoyle, A Sullivan; B Allen, N Dunne, W Mulhall.
KILDARE: TBA.
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)
Verdict: Kildare.

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