Tuesday 21 November 2017

McGeeney's Lilies are always in season

THOSE who point to the lack of silverware in Newbridge of the GAA kind as evidence of a lack of progress with Kildare over the past couple of seasons are guilty of something of a grievous oversight: the Lilies are defending O'Byrne Cup champions!

OK, that might not be the sort of sparkle which Kieran McGeeney longs for but the Kildare manager has effused the benefits of instilling a winning mentality as early and often as possible and so we can at least expect his charges to be competitive again in this year's competition.

During those long, dark winter nights spent ruefully reflecting on a summer without Leinster or All-Ireland honours, 'Geezer' would have been easily forgiven for cursing the cruciate ligament, a body part which helped disassemble Kildare's season from the inside and if the former Armagh captain did pray to the patron saint of knees for some respite in 2012, who come blame him?

Peter Kelly, Mikey Conway and Ken Donnelly are all back in action after their horror injuries but Dermot Earley and Hughie Lynch remain hors de combat.

Local interest, however, will no doubt centre on how many of Athy's swashbuckling county title-winning youngsters make this year's Kildare senior panel.

At present, they represent a considerable chunk of the under-21 squad but there was ample evidence during the club's run to a Leinster club semi-final that several are in possession of the right stuff.

Regular defenders Andriú Mac Lochlainn and Mick Foley are out of tomorrow's match with DIT while first choice goalkeeper Shane McCormack will be involved with UUJ in their McKenna Cup clash against Donegal.

The Dublin college -- tipped as strong outsiders for last year's Sigerson Cup -- field a strong selection, featuring Mayo seniors Aidan O'Shea and Alan Freeman.

Also included are Dublin prospects Darragh Nelson, Harry Dawson and Marc Schutte (Dublin under-21 hurler last year) and senior panelist, Colm Murphy.

DIT: A O'Meara; J Gallagher, P Cunnigham, R Tierney; C Walshe, D Nelson, D Hughes; A O'Shea, R Hazley; H Dawson, P Sharry, M Schutte; B Allen, A Freeman, E Reilly.

ODDS: Kildare 4/9, Draw 15/2, DIT 11/5

VERDICT: Kildare

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