Middle men are central for minors
Dublin and Kildare will meet for the seventh time in two years when they contest their eagerly anticipated Leinster Minor Football Championship semi-final at Parnell Park this evening (7.30).
Both sides have impressed en route to the semi-final, with Kildare enjoying a comfortable first-round win over holders Longford, while a decent Offaly team were cast aside with the minimum of fuss in the quarter-finals.
Key to their progress has been the strong platform provided at centrefield by Gavin Farrell and Daniel Flynn while their defence has generally held up well, conceding just 0-8 apiece in both matches to date.
In attack, Paddy Brophy provides a scoring threat from wing-forward while the diminutive Niall Kelly has been in fine form at full-forward both in terms of scoring and creating opportunities.
Dublin's campaign has followed a similar trend to that of their opponents with Westmeath easily brushed aside in the first round before the Dubs recorded a more dogged 0-10 to 0-5 win over Longford last month.
The defence has generally looked composed, with captain Robbie McDaid and Ballymun Kickhams' John Small offering a solid spine throughout, while Jack McCaffrey can cause havoc with his driving runs from wing-back.
Dublin's midfield pairing of Emmet Ó Conghaile and Patrick O'Higgins have a crucial role to play in winning sufficient possession to feed a talented forward line, while Gavin Ivory's influence on Dublin's performance has been reflected in his impressive form in both games, particularly when needed against Longford in the quarter-final. Although the personnel may have changed somewhat over the past two years, matches between the counties at this level are invariably tight and this evening should be no exception.
Home advantage should count for little given Kildare's excellent travelling support, but the feeling remains that if the Dubs can gain parity in the possession stakes at centrefield, then they should have enough scoring options to sneak home by the tightest of margins.
pMeath face Louth in the other Leinster MFC semi-final at Páirc Tailteann, Navan tonight (7.30). Louth defeated the Royals in the first round before Meath emerged through the qualier route.
DUBLIN (MFC v Kildare): R O'Hanlon; G Hannigan, R McDaid, R Real; J McCaffrey, J Small, E Boyne; E Ó Conghaile, P O'Higgins; C Meaney, G Ivory, E Lowndes; S Fulham, C Kilkenny, D Campbell. Subs: L Stacey, P Mannion, R Noonan, D Byrne, M Mac Donncha, R Mullins, A O'Brien, E Archbold, C Pike, C Costelloe, S Carthy, K Kindlon, M O'Dea.