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Casement cauldron true test of mettle for Lilywhites



(Casement Park, Tonight, 7.0)

KILDARE came through an emotionally charged evening in Newbridge last Saturday with their championship ambitions just about intact but travel to Casement Park this evening for the replay knowing the locals will be hostile and the hitting will be hard.

In fairness, it's the sort of challenge Kildare might have winced at in previous years but for all their flaws over the past seasons under Kieran McGeeney they've never backed out of a battle.

They'll need all those concrete qualities this evening, though, and probably a bit more if they are to progress to what must represent the plum tie of round two, a home draw with Leitrim.

Encouragingly, McGeeney has both been able and has had the inclination to name an unchanged team, though there may be at least one last-minute alteration.

But it's a good sign, particularly in defensive terms, after that horror show against Louth a couple of weeks back.

Dermot Earley starts again this week and if he can match or better his industry of a week ago, he could again have a major bearing on this result.

Last week, Kildare isolated both John Doyle and Pádraig O'Neill in a two-man inside forward line and attempted to hit them with quick, direct ball but so populated was the Antrim half of the pitch, many of their scores came through laboured build ups.

Kildare's wide tally -- though not much different to Antrim's -- needs improving too. The difference being that most of the Saffrons' miscues were from long-range shots whereas Kildare went to the effort of breaking down the Antrim rearguard action but their shooting was askew from closer in.

CJ McGourty has left the Antrim set up this week for a summer in America but his form post St Gall's All-Ireland club triumph wasn't exactly impressive and if Kildare can get as much from their bench as they did last Saturday, they should win and progress to face Leitrim in St Conleth's Park next weekend.

ODDS:Antrim 11/8, Draw 15/2, Kildare 8/11

VERDICT: Kildare