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Thursday 14 December 2017

Lilies ripe for orchard raid

ALLIANZ FL DIVISION 2

ARMAGH v KILDARE

(Crossmaglen, Tomorrow 2.30)

IT'S been a dramatic turnaround for Kildare since that opening day defeat by Down and there are plenty of good reasons why they could come away from Kieran McGeeney's old stomping ground with two points tomorrow.

An eight-point victory over the previously unbeaten Donegal is one, with 1-17 kicked in the process and a performance of real substance to boot.

They did that without roughly a dozen of last year's championship performers at Newbridge, including Mikey Conway, Morgan O'Flaherty, Eamonn Callaghan, Alan Smith, Rob Kelly and Brian Flanagan, and controlled the game right throughout.

McGeeney makes just one change -- goalkeeper Paul Flood in for Tom Corley. John Doyle's return last weekend added a dimension to the Kildare attack, while Damien Hendy's display at full-back was deemed a roaring success.

Also, the form shown by Daryl Flynn around the middle this year has taken some of the ball-winning responsibility away from Dermot Earley.

For Armagh, Paddy O'Rourke will have re-thought his attack, with both Ronan Clarke and Kevin Dyas likely to be out for a month after suffering fresh injuries this week.

The lingering Achilles' problem which has hampered Clarke's involvement this season flared up again during the win over Laois last week, while former Aussie rules recruit, Dyas, injured his right shoulder in the same game.

Clarke's absence, in particular, is a major blow to O'Rourke, who was likely to reunite Armagh's All-Ireland-winning full-forward line of Clarke and Steven McDonnell for only the second time this year against McGeeney's men.

Without Clarke, Armagh aren't as threatening, and if anyone knows how to turn them over in Crossmaglen, it's their former star centre-back and All-Ireland winning captain, 'Geezer'.

ODDS: Armagh 4/6, Draw 15/2, Kildare 6/4

VERDICT: Kildare

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