McGeeney: Key is to stop trio
Kildare boss pinpoints Brogans and Connolly as main threat
KIERAN McGEENEY has identified the twin secret to Lilywhite success against Dublin on Sunday week -- put the shackles on their lethal inside trio and, just as crucially, deny them the oxygen of goals.
Knowing your opponent's greatest strength is one thing, knowing how to stifle it can prove far more difficult, and the Kildare manager has hailed Diarmuid Connolly and the Brogan brothers, Bernard and Alan, as the deadliest full-forward line in the country today.
Just as well, then, that Kildare's defence has been miserly in its two SFC outings thus far, conceding the grand total of 15 points against Wicklow and Meath.
For their eagerly anticipated semi-final, however, it will be a case of unstoppable force meeting immovable object -- and something will have to give.
"Each team provides a new challenge. Dublin probably have the most potent full-forward line in the country right now with the two Brogans and Diarmuid Connolly," McGeeney declared, speaking at a press conference in Kildare's Hawkfield training base outside Newbridge.
"They don't even seem to have to try to get the scores. It seems like the rest of the Dublin team are willing to give up their game just to make those three look good, and that is an unusual trait in a team."
Two summers ago, Dublin and Kildare served up a Leinster final mini-classic but even though the underdogs tallied an impressive 18 points, all from play, it still wasn't enough because they leaked 2-15 at the far end. "I thought we played well enough to beat them," the Kildare boss recalled.
"We let in two very soft goals against the run of play. We hit 18 points from play that day and never got a scoreable free-kick until the last one, when we needed a goal in the last minute.
"If we are hitting those types of scores this time while playing that type of game, then maybe we will be a wee bit cuter in terms of not letting them in for soft goals. They have hit something like 30 goals in 13 matches, so they rely heavily on goals."
McGeeney's statistical handle on the Dubs is almost bang on the money -- between O'Byrne Cup/Shield (12 goals), NFL Division One and league final (18) and their solitary SFC outing against Laois (one), they've amassed exactly 31 goals over 13 matches.
However, while the Brogans and Connolly provide Dublin's cutting edge, 'Geezer' was equally lavish in his praise of their 'water carriers' in the half-forward line. He pinpointed the importance of skipper Bryan Cullen, adding: "They seem to have missed him when he has come off, because of the work that he does. (Paul) Flynn is very quick and he's able to defend and attack with it. (Kevin) McManamon in the middle is like a battery that just never stops.
"So they are on the go the whole time. It is probably the platform for most of their defensive and offensive work and why they are taken off.
"I know that doesn't sit well with players, but that is the way it is now in Gaelic football and the half-forward line is probably the hardest line to play in."