If Derry manager Damian Cassidy was looking for an encouraging omen in advance of tomorrow’s crucial All Ireland third round football qualifier against Kildare at Celtic Park then it was provided in last weekend’s efficient victory over Westmeath.
For some time now either or both Paddy and Eoin Bradley have tended to shoulder the lion’s share of responsibility for putting scores on the board for the Oak Leaf side.
But with Paddy not currently in the squad and Eoin’s input rather more restricted it was left to Mark Lynch and James Kielt to provide the scoring blueprint for Derry’s victory in Mullingar.
The fact that they fulfilled this brief with considerable style by sharing nine points between them offers Cassidy the hope that this quality finishing may be replicated tomorrow although he concedes that a Kildare rearguard in which Henry McGrillan and Emmet Bolton in particular have been in outstanding form lately is capable of restricting the Oak Leaf forwards’ momentum.
“We have been fairly satisfied with our efforts against both Carlow and Westmeath but Kildare appear a stronger side,” says Cassidy.
“They are clearly using the qualifiers to show that they are better than their form in the Leinster championship suggests and they will come to us knowing that a win will throw them right into the frame for a place in the last eight. But that’s something on which we ourselves are very focused and we like to think that our confidence, cohesion and drive have increased markedly.”
With Patsy Bradley likely to play a part against the Lily Whites and Joe Diver having shown superb form against Westmeath in tandem with Enda Muldoon, Cassidy now has options at midfield while Barry McGoldrick can again bring his experience to bear in a defensive role.
Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney might have seen his side glide past Leitrim last Saturday but he insists they have considerable scope for improvement.
“Our shot selection was poor on occasions and we tended to have lapses in concentration. These would be fatal flaws against a team as streetwise as Derry,” stresses the 2002 All Ireland winning Armagh captain.