Preview: Allianz FL D2 Final - Galway v Kildare
Sunday April 9
Allianz Football League Division Two Final
Galway v Kildare, Croke Park, 2pm, Live on TG4
By Cian O'Connell
During the past year and a half Kevin Walsh and Cian O’Neill have frequently talked about consistency so the fact that Galway and Kildare will compete in the top flight of the Allianz Football League next year is a source of encouragement.
Galway haven’t been in Division One since 2011, and while Kildare slipped into Division Three the Lilywhites have stitched two promotions together.
That is hugely important for Kildare, who have been serious competitors in the Leinster minor and Under 21 grades recently.
Returning as a force at senior inter-county level, though, is what they want to do with the signs from the current campaign providing some optimism.
A fortnight ago Paul Cribbin’s dynamic display inspired Kildare to a win over Clare which guaranteed them a spot in Division One in 2018.
What is most pleasing for Kildare, though, is how different players have supplied leadership and class throughout the campaign thus far.
Kevin Feely is a competent player, Niall Kelly can create and take chances, while Tommy Moolick is another effective performer.
Last weekend Kildare made 14 changes for the trip to Salthill for a game against Galway, but the attitude and application demonstrated bodes well.
Fionn Dowling was outstanding at centrefield in that fixture and he is hopeful about making a further impact for Kildare.
Dowling is content with what has been a satisfactory three months for Kildare. “It has been, yeah, we have gained promotion to Division One,” Dowling says.
“That was our target at the beginning of the year. We have sort of taken it game by game, it was no different there, two points was our objective in Galway, we are disappointed we didn't come away with that.
“Overall it has been a good League campaign, we are up in Division One next year. To be competing there is only a good thing for Kildare. It won't be such a good League campaign if we don't win in Croke Park, that is our focus now.”
In 2016 Kildare lost two of their three games at GAA headquarters, a venue in which Galway haven’t won since claiming All Ireland glory in 2001.
While Kildare’s display was commendable considering they made so many changes at Pearse Stadium Dowling wants the Lilywhites to earn silverware on Sunday. “Yeah, but still at the end of the day we didn't come away with the two points. That was our main objective, we didn't do it.
“We are obviously disappointed, but there is lots of learnings there with so many changes. It is good to show that we did some good things throughout and some not so good things. We can look back on it and hopefully push Galway in a big game at Croke Park.”
Having guided the Tribesmen to Connacht Senior Football Championship glory last summer Walsh continues to build a healthy panel. Fiontan O’Curraoin, Micheal Lundy, Michael Farragher, and Sean Armstrong’s return to the maroon and white cause has increased the depth, while Mountbellew-Moylough duo Barry McHugh and Michael Daly are adapting well to the inter-county arena.
Kildare and Galway will be striving to deliver at GAA headquarters and a lively 70 minutes is anticipated.
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Mick O'Grady, David Hyland, Ollie Lyons; Johnny Byrne, Eoin Doyle, Keith Cribbin; Kevin Feely, Tommy Moolick; Fergal Conway, Fionn Dowling, Paul Cribbin; Chris Healy, Niall Kelly, Ben McCormack.