Kildare v Meath – Lilywhites To Dominate
Kildare v Meath
These two are the annual forerunners for the title of ‘Best bet to knock the Dubs out in Leinster’ for the last decade, with little joy.
Meath did manage it in the 2010 semi-final with a five goal semi-final blast against the Dubs in a Leinster championship remembered for Martin Sludden’s failure to disallow Joe Sheridan’s ‘goal’ that denied Louth a historic win than the Royal blitz of the Dubs.
Again, these sides are the most obvious threats to the Dubs in Leinster, but while it’s doubtful either of them will work the All-Ireland champs, firstly we’ll try to decipher who’ll win this tie.
The appointment of Jason Ryan gave hope that Kildare could add some attacking finesse to the solid base Kieran McGeeney had established.
In fairness, while the league ended up being a disaster for Kildare and Ryan they were in a good spot entering injury time in round 3. An opening round thriller saw them dig deep to beat Mayo by one, they looked good for long periods away to Cork before going down by the minimum, before they were five points up after 70 minutes at home to Tyrone.
Some late substitutions and high fives saw the dream undone by late Ronan O’Neill and Mark Donnelly goals. The engine fell out of the Kildare machine after that and relegation was their lot. However, their 1-22 to 1-7 routing of Louth will have added some confidence to the tank for their summer charge.
With eight different scorers, Kildare were playing on a different level to the wee county and the only downside to their display was their wastefulness in terms of goals.
The same charge can’t be levelled at Meath who hit seven by a hapless Carlow outfit in their opener. Mickey Newman hit one from the throw-in to set the Royal ball rolling. Given their haul it’s stunning that Graham Reilly was Meath’s only non-scoring forward; expect the St Colmcille’s man to be a major player on Sunday though.
Meath’s line-up has a solid look about it. While Bryan Meade and Brian Menton are a big midfield, but Kildare’s Tommy Moolick is an all-action midfielder and his movement has the potential to upset the Royal duo. Moolick gets on the end of moves so a small bet on him at double figures to net at any time for Kildare is worth a look.
On the midfield front, it’s a shame we won’t get to enjoy the high-fielding exploits of Conor Gillespie who is out with a cruciate injury. Indeed much of the column inches regarding this game have been injury-centred with hot-shot Newman on the doubtful list along with Young POTY nominee and All-star nominee in 2012 Donal Keogan, and speedster Eamonn Wallace. The main absentee for Ryan is likely to be the solid Peter Kelly.
Mick O’Dowd seems to have got Meath in a good place. They were level with the Dubs after 45 minutes last year in the Leinster final with Stephen Bray, Mickey Newman and Eamonn Wallace to the fore. If the latter two are out it makes it much more difficult on the scoring front.
Getting a grip on where these sides are at is difficult after their facile opening games. Ryan brings a strong championship record as a manager from his Wexford days, and the thorough preparation associated with Geezer’s tenure won’t have dropped.
With strong personnel coming through from their under-21 teams, Kildare look strong. However, their lack of a killer instinct and weaknesses at the back mitigate against taking the 8/13 on offer. While the 13/8 about Meath looks like value, without Mickey Newman it’s going to be hard to make that pay.
So, with so much up in the sky we’re going to side with Kildare to power on but rather than the 8/13 we’ll be bold and go for the half-time/full-time price of 6/4.