herald

Saturday 18 November 2017

Down time for Kildare

AS luck would have it, Kildare and Down played each other in a challenge match about six weeks ago.

It took place in Carton House and the result remains a secret but you kind of got the impression from Jason Ryan this week that a lot was learned. On both sides.

"We know how mobile they are," he explained, "when you have forwards like Conor Lavery and Mark Poland ... very, very, very mobile.

"And it's dealing with their mobility and their large number of bodies at the back and their ability to counter-attack at pace.

"They'll be very familiar with us but both teams will be very familiar at this stage. You get your DVDs, you do your research on teams and away you go. You set up according to how you're going to deal with it. For us, we're defending against a counter-attacking team."

disappointing

Ryan admitted after Kildare's disappointing Meath defeat that nothing the Royals did on the day bore an resemblance to what they did against Carlow in the previous round. This surprised him a little.

So he's unlikely to spend an age pouring over Down's 21-point win over Leitrim in Newry, their first public appearance since a fairly flimsy replay defeat to Tyrone at the same venue a month previous.

Conor Laverty (2-4) and Donal O'Hare were excellent but Ryan would have known that anyway and far removed from their stylish 2010 escapades, when the teams last met in an All-Ireland semi-final, Down have been forced to adapt or die.

optimistic

Being of an optimistic disposition, Ryan will see such scope for improvement in his own team as a positive.

Almost uniformly, his full-back line were hammered by Meath in Croke Park but it is former All Star Mick Foley who pays the price, losing out to the more pacey Ciarán Fitzpatrick.

'Chalkey' White comes into the team in midfield, a solid rather than flamboyant alternative.

Mainly though, Ryan needs a good start. He will be pleased with how his team finished against Meath, both from a psychological and physical standpoint.

But if they go chasing goals in Newry, the home side will turn to stone.

If Down dictate the terms of engagement, they'll win.

ODDS: Down 4/5, Draw 15/2, Kildare 
11/8 VERDICT: Down

ALL-IRELAND SFC ROUND 2B

DOWN v KILDARE

(Páric Esler, Tomorrow, 2.0)

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