Wednesday 28 June 2017

McGeeney's men can bounce back

Keith Barr

I'VE little doubt that Laois were the one team in the qualifiers Kildare didn't want and tomorrow's derby clash in Portlaoise will test the Lilies' recovery from the disappointment of Croke Park.

Many observers were disappointed with Kildare's showing against Dublin in that they expected them to really take the game to the opposition. They may have tried and failed to do that effectively but, as has become their trademark under Kieran McGeeney, they kept fighting to the death and almost pulled off a draw.

I expect that fighting attitude to see them home tomorrow as well. Their record in the qualifiers has been exemplary for the past three years and victory over his old Armagh team-mate Justin McNulty should get the Kildare show on the road again for McGeeney.

Navan hosts the other big game of the second round, where Meath are fancied to push on from their demolition of Louth. It is an interesting clash as Galway, much as Meath the last day, really need to deliver a performance for the sake of the new management. Tomas O Flatharta didn't look like he got his selection right against Mayo but if he can find a balance tomorrow, this is the perfect occasion for a team in transition to take its first big step.

Galway are coming in completely unfancied as 9/4 outsiders which can be a real plus in a game like this. I think they'll probably fall short but will go close to upsetting the odds.

Tyrone should bounce back against Longford but Pearse Park is one of the grounds where it's never straightforward and it could be a nervy evening for them.

Elsewhere, it is wonderful to see London odds on for a game in the second round of the qualifiers and I think they'll justify favouritism by seeing off Waterford. They should be joined by Offaly, Down, Antrim and Armagh.

Irish Independent

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