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McGeeney expects tough Offaly workout

Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney might not be a native, but he knows Sunday's derby clash with Offaly will lack nothing in intensity just because it's an O'Byrne Cup encounter.

Entering his fifth campaign as boss, the former Armagh captain is well aware of what the rivalries with Laois, Dublin, Meath and Offaly mean in Kildare.

Though neither side will be at full strength or in anything like championship condition, the challenges will not be for the faint-hearted, especially with Offaly's players seeking to impress new boss Gerry Cooney.

And that's exactly how McGeeney likes it. "That'll be good," he says. "I'm sure they'll be up for it. I'm sure they'll like to get stuck into Kildare. They always do, Offaly men."

A feature of Kildare under McGeeney is players' adaptability, and regular centre-forward Eoghan O'Flaherty lined out at left half-back in Sunday's defeat of DIT.

The manager did the same thing three years ago with Mikey Conway, who turned out to be an inspirational playmaker in a quarterback role, destined for an All Star until struck down by a cruciate knee ligament injury.

Conway was back on the '40' last week and he and O'Flaherty are likely to be persisted with in those positions against Offaly.

"A lot of attacks are coming from wing-back now," explains McGeeney. "To me there's no difference between numbers 5-12. They're all a similar type of player. Numbers 8 and 9 have a wee bit more height, but to me they should be able to play anywhere, so we decided to see what he (O'Flaherty) would be like there and he did okay.

"We want competition. We know he can play No 11. So we'll just see what he's like there (left half-back) for one or two games."

Hugh McGrillen (hamstring) should be available for selection this week, while All Star defender Mick Foley was due back from his travels last weekend.

However, hot midfield prospect Kevin Feely has opted to commit to soccer with Bohemians for the year ahead, although he will play with Kildare's U-21s.

Belfast Telegraph