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Kildare v Down: Verdicts of the three wise men

Conor McKeon hears the views of some of football's all-time greats on Sunday's semi -final clash between Kildare and Down

PADDY DOHERTY

All-Ireland winner with Down in 1960, '61 and '68

WHERE DOES DOWN'S SWAGGER COME FROM?

"The rest of the people in the country probably think we have big heads but it comes from the first win, I suppose. In '58 Derry beat us and then we won Ulster in '59 and came down here and lost to Galway. We decided amongst ourselves to come down in 1960, not to give a good account of ourselves, but to go out and win it and we done it.

"We won it again in '61 and we should have won it for a third time in '62 but Cavan beat us, Roscommon beat Cavan and then Kerry beat Roscommon. It was the easiest one of the three. We were a good team winning two but we would have been an even better team winning three."

A FAN OF DOWN'S NEW PRAGMATIC APPROACH?

"I wouldn't be, no. I understand it has to be done these days. You need your half-forwards to come back into defence. (Martin) Clarke and Benny (Coulter) have been doing it and it worked well against Kerry."

IMPROVED DEFENCE?

"It has been, yes. They did well enough against Kerry and you look down the subs and they have a few players to come in and do a job as well. All they can do is their best and hope that it is good enough."

CALL IT?

"We know that Kildare is the best team but if we can start well and get a score or two we have a chance. Kieran McGeeney is a good manager but (Down boss) James (McCartan) and (his management team of Paddy) Tally and the Donegal man (Brian McIver) are all good men.

"Tally did a good job with Tyrone and James knows a thing or two. He will have them geared up. Our forward line is playing terrible well with Clarke and Benny and they did well to beat Kerry.

"They are playing with a bit of swagger now like some of the old Down teams of old and Benny is getting a bit of help up front now which is half the battle. That hasn't always happened in the past."



MICK O'DWYER

Eight time All-Ireland-winning manager with Kerry. Former Kildare, Laois and Wicklow manager

SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THIS KILDARE TEAM AND YOUR '98 SIDE?

"Kildare are an exceptionally fit team but think of McGeeney himself when he was playing football he was a seven-day-a-week man with his training and he has brought that to Kildare."

CHANGE IN THE KILDARE TEAM WICKLOW BEAT IN '08?

"It's practically the same team. They have men who have got fitter and we beat them the year before and we beat Down last year in the championship too. Those two teams are in there in the All-Ireland semi-final and we beat them. Maybe Wicklow aren't as bad a people think they were we weren't too far away."

CHANGE IN DOWN TEAM WICKLOW BEAT IN '09?

"The only satisfaction I got from last year was beating Down in Aughrim. I was waiting 30 years after Down beat me as a player so I had the satisfaction of that. Down had a lot of good footballers and I said they would be a threat in Ulster the next year. McCartan is a tough guy and he has put a bit of work into them."

CALL IT?

"Kildare are looking good. I think it will be an interesting game. Two good footballing sides, Down have a good forward line and Kildare have all-round strength. It's an interesting game, there won't be much in it but maybe the Lilywhites might just pip it. It's going to be close."



BILLY MORGAN

Former Cork All-Ireland winning goalkeeper (1973) and manager ('89 & '90)

WHERE ARE THE FORM LINES?

"Out of the quarter finalists winners Kildare were the most impressive. Down weren't that far behind them. Going on performance you'd pick Kildare but traditionally Down are a team that when they come to Croke Park they seem to be better."

CALL IT?

"If I had to put a bet on it I think it would be very close and I'd tip Down to just get over the line."

WHICH TEAM WOULD SUIT CORK BETTER IN THE FINAL?

"I was initially going to say Kildare might suit them better but the way Kildare came back against Meath and Derry, they were 1-3 to nil down in both games and came back.

"It is a hard one to call because the way Kildare came back against Meath, their defence played well and they were able to break very quickly, something like Dublin did last Sunday.

"Cork could be vulnerable.

"Individually they have good defenders but if they are pulled out of position and opened up and there is plenty of space that opposing forwards can get room."