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Tuesday 19 September 2017

More than silverware on offer for Lilies as they look towards summer

Allianz FL Div 2 Kildare v Galway (Croke Park, 2.0)

Galway’s Shane Walsh and Kildare’s Eoin Doyle. Photo: Sportsfile
Galway’s Shane Walsh and Kildare’s Eoin Doyle. Photo: Sportsfile

The very basic and obvious question both Eoin Doyle and Shane Walsh were asked at last Monday's Allianz launch ahead of tomorrow's League finals was: does it really matter who wins on Saturday?

The premise of the enquiry was basically sound.

Both teams have now been promoted.

Division 1, as has become more and more apparent every year over the past decade, is the only place to be for any team with upward mobility in mind.

Both Doyle's Kildare and Walsh's Galway will begin 2018 there next February, wherein they'll attempt to prove and improve themselves against the All-Ireland movers and shakers.

Tomorrow's curtain-raiser has little riding on it, then.

Does it?

"The biggest thing is promotion, definitely, yeah," Doyle admitted before adding: "But it's important that when there is silverware up for grabs that you take it.

"We haven't got the silverware that we wanted so when there is one up for grabs it is important."

Last year, for context, Kildare played in a Division 3 final that had, it seemed, even less riding on it.

Yet they were beaten by Clare and by the time they got around to playing Wexford Croke Park in the first round of the Leinster Championship, it seemed as though the momentum and excitement the team had slowly built through an otherwise clean spring campaign had dissipated.

Similarly, Galway are back where they historically belong now but with reason to go hard for tomorrow's result.

Naturaly, they have no beef to grind with Kildare but the exorcism of a horrendous recent record in Croke Park (where they haven't won since 2001) would sit somewhere atop of Kevin Walsh's 'To Do' list in the early part of this year.

Kildare are still eight weeks shy of their Leinster SFC opener against Laois or Longford.

deprived

Galway, meanwhile, have nine weeks to put down before they tackle Mayo, Sligo or New York in Connacht.

So, in theory anyway, we should have ourselves a decent game tomorrow in Croke Park.

One way of analysing which team will win is to see that Kildare almost deprived Galway of promotion last Sunday in Salthill with a starting team featuring 14 changes from that which secured their own passage to the top-flight a week previously against Clare in Newbridge.

These teams scored an identical collective points tally (135) in this year's League and Kildare conceded just a point less, so they're well matched.

Kildare have had a greater rest though, and they have the aid of momentum.

They'll also be highly-motivated to avoid a repeat of last spring's buzz-killer.

ODDS: Kildare EVS, Draw 8/1, Galway 21/20

VERDICT: Kildare

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