Lilies urge referee to clamp down on 'cynical' Donegal
Kildare selector Niall Carew says that he is confident about his charges' ability to break down Donegal's renowned defensive system, as long as referee David Coldrick clamps down on what he describes as the Ulster champions' tendency to commit "professional fouls" high up the pitch.
The new Ulster champions claimed their first provincial title in 19 years thanks to a set-up that has proved difficult to score against, with Jim McGuinness ensuring that his hard-working team defends from the front and also drops back in numbers.
Only Cavan have managed to score a goal against them, while the average score conceded in their four championship games (Antrim, Tyrone and Derry providing the other opposition) is under nine points.
Having also bagged the Allianz Football League Division 2 crown this season, it is clearly a structure that works but Carew says Kildare can succeed where so many others have failed as long as Coldrick is vigilant.
"It's all going to come down to the interpretation of the referee," said Carew yesterday. "If he lets Donegal continue with the cynical fouling of the opposition half-back line in particular, then yes, they will be hard to break down.
"If he punishes them and hands out yellow cards when they are merited, they we'll have a chance.
"We're well able to move the ball quickly but if Donegal get away with the professional fouls, it will obviously be hard to do that."
Statistics compiled from three of Donegal's four Ulster championship games reveal that of the 62 fouls carried out by the team in those games, 43pc of them (27) were carried out by forwards. That figure was a remarkably high 56pc against Antrim, 50pc against Cavan and 40pc against Derry.
Carew accepts that a different approach might be needed to overcome any strategy of fouling high up the pitch and he is confident that Kildare possess the firepower to make it work.
"People are always giving out about our forwards and our shooting, but the wides count is down in the last few games and we have always been getting big tallies. It was 19 points against Derry but that's the type of thing we've been doing in the last two years as well.
"We're lucky enough to have players that can kick the ball over from distance, from 40 or 45 metres, or even outside that and we'll shoot from distance if we have to.
"But getting quick ball into the forwards is part of our game and whether we can do that will depend on the referee giving yellow cards for professional fouls. If he does that, they'll have to stop committing those fouls. If he doesn't, it's going to be very difficult."