Same again for Donegal against Kildare

Tom Comack


Tom Comack

Donegal could field the same side that started against Derry in the Ulster final when they take on Kildare in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Croke Park on Saturday evening (6.00 p.m. throw-in)

Donegal could field the same side that started against Derry in the Ulster final when they take on Kildare in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Croke Park on Saturday evening (6.00 p.m. throw-in)

Donegal manager, Jim McGuinness, gave a broad hint that there will be very few changes from the Ulster final line-out when speaking to the Democrat this week.

The final line-up will not be revealed until after training tonight (Thursday) at the earliest when the side limber up for the final time before heading to Dublin on Friday afternoon.

Two weeks after their Ulster final triumph, Donegal have prepared very well for their first Croke Park championship encounter in two years. Two years ago they were knocked out by Cork at the same stage after coming through four rounds of qualifiers, but the players and supporters have bad memories of that encounter as they lost out by 1-27 to 2-10.

However, a much different Donegal side will take to the field at Headquarters on Saturday - up to eight different personnel and a side which has built up a wealth of confidence and experience.

It will be their second visit to Croke Park this year, having already defeated Laois in the Division Two Allianz National League final. Indeed, between league and championship, this group of players have lost only one game since the beginning of February and that was the league encounter with Laois.

The win over Derry in the Ulster final has given the whole county a lift but manager Jim McGuinness does not wish to rest on his laurels.

“We have worked hard and upped the training since the Ulster final because we see Saturday’s game and the quarter-final as a great opportunity for this group of players,” McGuinness told the Democrat.

“It is an opportunity that we do not want to let slip and we want to give it our best shot and while we face stiff opposition and it is obviously a difficult game for us to win we go into it in confident mood.

“We will look for all the players to put in a big performance and a big effort and even if we don’t get over the line and get the result we will be very proud of the players.

“They know that if they put in a big effort for the county that we will be more than happy and the county will be happy with them.”

In Saturday evening’s encounter Donegal will face a physicially strong Kildare side hardened by a number of good Qualifier campaigns in recent seasons and a team that have stood on the edge of the Promised Land on more than one occasion in recent years.

Kildare were defeated by Dublin in the Leinster semi-final after earlier defeating Wicklow and Meath, but they have looked very good in the qualifiers, accounting for Laois, Meath and Derry.

“Kildare are extremely well conditioned, very fit and very strong. They have a new full-forward this year in Tomas O’Connor. James Kavanagh is a very good player and played well last weekend against Derry.

“I think every one of their forwards scored against Derry and Johnny Doyle kicked six points from midfield. They have very athletic defenders and have a fair bit of height in their full-back line,” said McGuinness, who stresses that Donegal will not be overawed by their opponents or their surroundings. But he also hastens to add that Kildare will hold no fear for Donegal either.

The big injury worries for Donegal in the run-up to the game were midfield pair Rory Kavanagh and Kevin Rafferty as well as Dermot ‘Brick’ Molloy, but the news was positive this week with all three back in training and it looks as if McGuinness will have a full deck to pick from when he sits down to select his side.

Donegal will travel to Dublin on Friday afternoon and overnight in the capital in preparation for their crack at Kildare and tilt at a place in the last four in the country.

Supporters warning

Donegal supporters travelling to Dublin on Saturday should not that the annual Show Day takes place in Virginia and this is one of the biggest shows in the country. Supporters should allow up to an hour extra for their journey if taking that route.