Ciaran Whelan: I really hope Kildare can put it up to the Dubs
REGULARLY we fall into the trap of over-analysing big championship wins early in the summer campaign.
After Kildare's comprehensive 13-point win over Laois I outlined that it came with a big health warning.
Granted there were positives in their performance and kicking 3-16 play will boost confidence within any camp.
Jason Ryan also won the tactical battle as Kildare realigned their tactics to provide more protection for their backline.
However, that performance can only be viewed in the context of the opposition.
The Laois performance in the replay that day was simply awful. The lack of intensity and desire by Laois from midfield into their forward line allowed Kildare to control the game.
Kildare were afforded time on the ball and were easily able to work the ball out of defence and execute quality passes into their forward line.
Space and time equals scores and Kildare took full advantage of a Laois team playing as individuals.
So next stop for Jason Ryan is the Dubs in Croke Park which provides a very different challenge.
Playing the Dubs in Croke Park will open old wounds for this Kildare. An average defeat of 13 points in their last three encounters against Dublin will linger in the mindset of the Kildare players this week.
The insurmountable problem Ryan has is preparing his team mentally for the challenge.
Strip away all the clichés and sports phycologist quotations that will be bandied around the Kildare camp this week and underneath it all will be a sense of fear.
A sense of fear that Ryan must transfer into a sense of belief.
That sense of belief will only begin to build if the players trust in the game-plan their manager wants them to execute.
If they believe that their game-plan can stifle and unsettle the Dubs, it will be a good starting point.
Belief and confidence really gathers momentum when the ball is thrown in so the opening ten minutes is hugely significant for Kildare.
Kildare will not imitate the Longford tactic and look for a moral victory by approaching the game in the right spirit by playing man-to-man football.
However, when faced with the most formidable forward unit in the game, it is not an easy task that faces Kildare but it does not take a 'rocket scientist' to conclude that Ryan will need to implement a solid defensive plan to keep the game tight in the opening half.
The downside for Ryan is that he must explore more than one game-plan in targeting Dublin's collective strength right throughout their team.
Against Laois, Kildare dropped their wing-backs, Emmet Bolton and Kevin Murnaghan, deep in front of their full-back line in the first half.
It invited Laois forward and left space in the half-forward line for them to pick off scores.
Playing a higher line defensively brought more stability in the second half of that game.
If Kildare are to trouble Dublin, they must cut off the supply line and slow Dublin's build-up play in the half-forward line and midfield 50 metres from their own goal.
If Kildare do manage to break Dublin's momentum, they will need to be extremely efficient up front and this may prove to be their Achilles heel.
Kildare have in the past few years put up big scores against weaker opposition but have failed to deliver against the big teams. There is very little to suggest this will change on Sunday.
For Jim Gavin the challenge this week is very different.
The idle talk around the margins of victory is a dangerous ingredient and it will seep into the team mindset despite his best efforts to avoid complacency.
Keeping his team motivated and focused will be the key priorities of the Dublin management team.
Competition for team places will be a key factor in avoiding Dublin slipping into their comfort zone.
If Dublin play at the required tempo they will show up weaknesses in this Kildare team very quickly forcing them into errors.
However, if they stand off Kildare, they run the risk of leaking scores.
There is always the danger that Dublin could blow Kildare away if they get off to a fast start.
It is a credit to Dublin in terms of their current status but another rout will not benefit Dublin.
Putting aside the natural Dublin-biased feeling; I hope Kildare come and ask some questions of Dublin. Are the good enough to do so? I am not so sure.