Allianz Football League Division 2 South Round 2
Kildare v Clare at St Conleth’s Park Newbridge, Sunday 2pm (Fergal Kelly, Longford)
It’s Newbridge or nowhere for Clare this Sunday as fresh from the timely jolt of a comprehensive opening win over Laois, Colm Collins’ side are gunning to finally break their Lilywhite hoodoo. Successive National League defeats at the Kildare venue in 2016, ’17 and ’19 by an average margin of four points have created an unwanted pattern that they will be eager to redress this time around.
After all, the carrot for the winners is a guaranteed place in the last four of Division 2 while for the hosts, a victory would also clinch top spot in the group that includes a semi-final showdown with the runners-up in the Northern half of the divide.
There were eerie similarities between Clare and Kildare’s first round successes as both had impressive debutants in Daniel Walsh and Alex Beirne who could well be marking each other this Sunday while the rivals also lost marquee forwards to a hamstring injury in the opening period (Jamie Malone and Daniel Flynn).
Still, despite a stuttering finish, Kildare were full value for their opening points over Cork and as ever, it was their superior spread of scorers that gives the Lilywhites their potent edge. Not over-reliant on any one marksman, they’ve had an average of eight different scorers against Clare’s five in previous meetings while at the weekend, four different forwards (Jimmy Hyland, Daniel Flynn, Paul Cribbin and Darragh Kirwan) notched up 1-6 from play.
Meanwhile, Clare’s attacking division only scored three points from play through Eoin Cleary (2) and Pearse Lillis, with more firepower and snipers required if they are to realistically raid for Newbridge silverware.