Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney is hoping that his team’s recent arduous itinerary will turn out to be their trump card when they meet Cork in the quarter-finals of the All-Ireland championship this Sunday.
Head of steam: Kieran McGeeney’s Kildare have gathered momentum ahead of this Sunday’s quarter-final with CorkBY JOHN CAMPBELL
Gaelic gamesKILDARE manager Kieran McGeeney is hoping that his team’s recent arduous itinerary will turn out to be their trump card when they meet Cork in the quarter-finals of the All-Ireland championship this Sunday.
Since bowing out of the Leinster Championship against Meath on July1, the Lily Whites have won three games in a hectic four-week spell in the qualifiers.
They overcame Cavan (3-20 to 1-9), Limerick (0-19 to 0-12) and Sligo (0-13 to 0-4) in the qualifiers, their resurgence suggesting that they might yet make a strong bid for the Sam Maguire Cup.
In contrast, Cork have not tasted action since their Munster final victory over Clare on July 8, meaning that they will have had a four-week break in advance of this Sunday’s quarter-final.
Since the introduction of the qualifiers some eleven years ago, history has shown that sides which have spells of inactivity imposed on them can display signs of ring-rustiness when they take to the field again.
McGeeney though believes that Cork’s fitness, hunger and ambition will be very much in evidence at Croke Park once again.
“They are a team against which the rest of us must measure ourselves,” points out the Kildare boss. “They won their Munster title quite comfortably and they will feel now that they can go on and win the All Ireland title just as they did in 2010.”
But while acknowledging Cork’s strengths, McGeeney is quick to highlight his team’s positive reaction to the qualifiers.
“While we were certainly given a fright by Limerick, the win we got over them in extra-time and those other victories over Cavan and Sligo could stand to us on Sunday. The boys are sharp and enthusiastic and they have been building towards playing against a team like Cork. We will not fear them,” declares McGeeney.
His side is regarded as the fittest and best conditioned in the country and their stamina, power and work-rate are certain to prove key assets against the physically imposing and highly energised Cork side.
While Kildare’s more seasoned warriors such as Johnny Doyle, Henry McGrillan and Emmet Bolton (pictured) are viewed as the bedrock of the side, the form of Eoin Doyle (half-forward), Michael Foley (midfield) and Tomas O’Connor (full-forward) has been hugely impressive this year.
Kildare have managed to score an average of 1-15 in the qualifiers to date — a score calculated to win most games, according to the statisticians.
But McGeeney is of the opinion that they will have to up this ratio against Cork who totted up 3-16 in beating Clare without breaking into a real sweat.
“We have to take our chances and not allow Cork to create goal chances in particular.
“They are extremely dangerous on the break and have very fast forwards,” states McGeeney.