Preview: A Few Bumps But A Soft Landing For Kerry Against Lilywhites

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Gavin O’Connor on Kerry v Kildare in tomorrow’s All-Ireland Quarter-Final against Kildare at Croke Park…

David Moran, gave a dominant display in midfield. Photo by Gavin O'Connor.

David Moran, gave a dominant display in midfield against Cork in the replay. He’s more than capable of repeating this against Kildare. Photo by Gavin O’Connor.

MORE often than not there is sense of a procession about quarter-finals with Kerry involved.

The record is pretty good; Kerry have competed in the quarter-final every year since it came in back in 2001 and safely navigated their way out of it on all but two occasions – Down in 2010 and Donegal in 2013.

There have been memorable games. Galway 2008 was played in apocalyptic conditions, in 2006 an old score was settled against Armagh and that nobody will ever forget Maurice Fitz’s magic in 2001. These games are filled with moments that would grace any era of Kerry football.

Continued below…

Arthur Spring 2


The quarter-final also marks a return to where every footballer and fan wants to be.

It’s a special moment when you take your seat in Croke Park again for what you hope will be the first of a few occasions that year.

The gentle hum of the stadium in your ears as the crowd begins to build is soon broken as soon as the ball is thrown in.

An early couple of scores by the opposition has the place rocking,  doubt enters the mind of some Kerry supporters who are outnumbered ten to one, and the opposing fans begin to believe.

However, it’s not long before, reality kicks in. Kerry chip their way in front, the hum returns and the game grinds to its inevitable conclusion.

This is generally the pattern of Kerry quarter-finals. Looking at history and the opposition this Sunday, it’s hard to not see it go the same way.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice has made just the one change from the Cork replay with Stephen O’Brien coming in for Johnny Buckley.

The Dr Crokes man making way marks the first time since Antrim in 2009 that a player from the Killarney club has not run out in the starting 15 for Kerry.

It had been assumed Buckley would lose his place. Struggling for form, he was substituted in both matches against Cork and in the drawn game after just 20 minutes.

There had been calls for a bit of a re-jig in the forward line with Colm Cooper, coming in and Kieran Donaghy making way. Though picking almost the same side again which is well capable of getting passed Division Three’s Kildare, Fitzmaurice is wise to keep his powder dry for another day.

Kildare, are coming into the game with a lot of confidence having taken a big scalp last week against Cork. Though it has to be stressed what an abject performance it was from the Rebels, who showed little resistance, clocking off early and trudging to an eight point defeat.

Nevertheless, that was the second big victory margin in a row for the Leinster side, so they do come into this game with confidence and an element of danger.

Still, it’s hard to really know have they improved all that much since their 19 point defeat to Dublin, it’s even harder to shift that game to one side.

Kildare have got talent – Emmet Bolton, is one of the most stylish and effective attacking wing backs in the country. Going forward, Niall Kelly and Alan Smith can cause their share of trouble, but it’s their midfield of Paul Cribbin and Tommy Moolick who will need to play out of their skins if they are to really test Kerry.

Thankfully, with David Moran and Anthony Maher, Kerry have what many see as the best midfield partnership in the country.

If they are working well and striking a balance around the centre, that will be platform for victory.

If the forward line of, O’Donoghue, Donaghy and Geaney isn’t gelling, there’s options on the bench with Colm Cooper and Barry John Walsh, who will feel they are good enough to start and have shown it.

The one thing that can derail Kerry, is if they take Kildare for granted.

They have made it through three rounds of the back door which we know ain’t exactly a cake walk.

This time though, Kerry should have more than enough to ease passed the opposition.

Kerry by 6 points

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