A NEW year, a new championship and a new batch of players. Tomorrow (Wednesday 6 March) night the Kildare Under 21 footballers will begin their provincial campaign in Navan against Meath at the quarter final stage for a place in the penultimate round against Laois or Wicklow, who also meet tomorrow night.
Sarsfields’ man Alan Barry has vacated the manager’s hot seat and the task of guiding the Under 21s for 2013 belongs to senior boss Kieran McGeeney along with Trevor O’Sullivan, Tom Cribbin and Damien Hendy.
The time for challenge matches has come to an end and the real action is just around the corner. On paper the Kildare panel is one of the strongest in years and selector Trevor O’Sullivan admits that the Lilies have assembled an impressive bunch of players who will find out just how good they are tomorrow night.
“It’s very hard to judge a team on challenge games and we’ll only get proof of how good this team is on Wednesday night,” O’Sullivan told the Leinster Leader this week.
In the opening round Meath booked their quarter final spot with a comfortable win over Louth at Pairc Tailteann, a game the Kildare management attended and were very impressed by the Royals.
The home side shone in attack against the 2012 Leinster finalists and Daniel Queeney, brother of senior star Jamie, was their leading light, scoring 2-4 of Meath 3-13.
“We went up to see the Meath game alright. They (Meath) are a very good outfit and they had a very definite game plan. It was actually quite close up until half time but Meath really pulled away in the second half. They had their homework done on Louth and they were very impressive.
“Having to go to Navan gives them an edge and the fact that they’ve already played a competitive game will also help them,” remarked the Celbridge man.
Home advantage will indeed be a help to the Royals but this Kildare team has great potential. Players like Niall Kelly, Paddy Brophy, Fionn Dowling, Podge Fogarty, Sean Hurley and Paul Cribbin should make the Lilies potent very in attack and difficult to stop.
Recent challenge matches saw them take on Kerry, Tipperary and Crossmaglen Rangers, while they also spent a weekend in Louth for a team bonding weekend but now they are itching for competitive action.
“We’ve definitely assembled a good panel of players. A lot of them would have come from the 2010 minor team that reached the Leinster semi final after the three games with Dublin. Then you have additions like Paddy Brophy and Niall Kelly so we have a talented bunch,” said O’Sullivan.
He added: “We had a few niggly injuries but they are all cleared up so we have a full bill of health. We have a good panel with a lot of players who have been playing senior football for the last few years so they are not short of experience.”
Throw in in Pairc Tailteann
tomorrow night Wednesday 6 March at 7.30pm.
Kildare Under 21 football panel:
Paddy Brophy (Celbridge), Johnny Byrne (Allenwood), Philip Cocoman (Naas), John Comerford (Maynooth), Fergal Conway (Celbridge), Dylan Corcoran (Celbridge), Paul Cribbin (Johnstownbridge), Mark Donnellan (Maynooth), Fionn Dowling (Suncroft), Barry Egan (Clane), Gavin Farrell (Castledermot), Declan Flaherty (St Kevin’s), Daniel Flynn (Johnstownbridge), Padraig Fogarty (St Laurence’s), Tony Gibbon (Athy), Daniel Grehan (Clogherinkoe), Sean Higgins (Maynooth), David Hughes (Celbridge), Sean Hurley (Johnstownbridge), Shane Hurley (Sarsfields), David Hyland (Athy), Niall Kelly (Athy), Michael Konstantin (Celbridge), Hugh Mahon (Athy), Dara McGlynn (Leixlip), Liam McGovern (Athy), Shane McNamera (Celbridge), Tommy Moolick (Leixlip), Conor Murphy (Clane), James Murray (Moorefield), Shane O’Hagan (Kill), James Roycroft (Athy), Kenneth Swords (Allenwood).