FROM the day the fixture list for the 2012 Allianz Football League Division 2 arrived on the desk there was one stand out game that looked like it could have a deciding influence on how this league of 2012 would pan out, writes Tommy Callaghan.
That game is this weekend’s clash between Galway and Kildare, now fixed for Salthill with a 2.30pm throw in.
Galway. Memories. Heartbreak. 1998. 2000. And much more besides.
Still we are due a change of fortune, a rub of the green. A little bit of luck that no team, no matter how good they are, will win anything without.
It is fair to say that after two games this stand out game looked for many of us ‘Doubting Thomas’s’ could have more to do with the bottom regions of the table rather than the top but such has been the change of fortunes for Kildare, such has been the marked improvement over the last four games that a win or even a draw will suffice to see us return to the top division of the NFL for the first time since 2008, ironically Kieran McGeeney’s first season in charge.
A quick perusal at this season’s line outs shows us that McGeeney has used 29 players in total in the 2012 NFL and out of that just six have started in each of the six games; while four others have been involved either starting or brought on at various stages.
However if you look at just the last four games, twelve players have played in them all, while another three have either started or have been introduced at some stage.
So all in all it can be seen that the team is a relatively settled side and when you take into consideration that up to four players missed out when unavailable through injury, it simply emphasises that despite using 29 in total the side is really very close to being the strongest available. The major talking point will be when everyone is available but only 15 can start and some very fine players will have to settle for the bench.
That’s called strength in depth.
Tyrone, of course have the number one position nailed down and did so with two games remaining, a great achievement by Mickey Harte’s men but if you cast your mind back when Kildare played the Red Hand boys ‘at home’ in Croker they (Kildare) were with them up to the time that Ciaran Fitzpatrick had to leave the field through injury.
So on the face of it there may not be too much between these teams and undoubtedly Kildare have improved no end since the opening game.
But we must banish any thoughts of a league final and first concentrate on Galway.
The boys from the west have broken our hearts more times than we care to remember.
Galway have held the upper hand on Kildare for a number of years and you have to go all the way back to 1984, a National League game in Newbridge to find the last time Kildare beat Galway (1-13 to 1-9).
Having said that we have much to look forward to at the minute. Our last four games have been impressive and very encouraging both in the style of play and if we are being honest, the results.
In total Kildare have hit 7-103 but the most heartening statistics of all is the fact that in the last three games Kildare have recorded 7-61.
No team can come anywhere near that kind of scoring so if that rich vein of form can be maintained then Kildare fans can look forward with confidence to Sunday.
Eoghan O’Flaherty leads the way scoring charts with 24 points while Mikey Conway has 20 to his credit but the real bonus must be the fact that defenders such as Ollie Lyons, Morgan O’Flaherty, Emmet Bolton, Brian Flanagan and Hugh McGrillen have all made the score sheet to date.
The last team to defeat Galway (NFL of 84/85) lined out as follows:
John O’Donghue; John Crofton, Paddy O’Donoghue, Bill Sex; Pat Flynn 0-2, Des Bergin, Sean Ryan; Dave Kavanagh, Shay Fahey 0-2; John O’Rourke 0-2, Larry Tompkins 1-5, Barry O’Donoghue 0-1; Paul McLoughlin, Gerry Power, Colm Moran 0-1. Subs: Anthony McLoughlin. Subs: Mick Fogarty, Davy Dalton, Anthony McLoughlin.