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Kildare rethink forward plan

KILDARE'S reaction to their Leinster SFC exit at Dublin hands has been quite remarkable in one respect: manager Kieran McGeeney has dropped his entire full-forward line.

Out go Alan Smith, Ronan Sweeney and James Kavanagh for tomorrow's round two qualifier against neighbouring rivals Laois, and into the O'Moore Park melting pot come Rob Kelly, Tomás O'Connor and teenage championship debutant Fionn Dowling instead.

The obvious inference is that McGeeney was deeply unhappy with his inside line against Dublin -- partly reflected by the substitutions of Smith (before half-time) and Sweeney (during the third quarter).

Kelly replaced Smith on the day and struck two second half points; he is rewarded with his first start this summer. O'Connor had started Kildare's first two outings against Wicklow and Meath -- and was also named on the team to face Dublin only to make way at the 11th hour for Sweeney. Now the roles are reversed, presuming this isn't another 'dummy' team.

Dowling - a highly-rated graduate from last year's minor team - is now poised for his second major test of the past month, having just completed his Leaving Cert exams. The fourth change is enforced, with Emmet Bolton ruled out with a hamstring injury and Aindriú Mac Lochlainn duly handed an immediate chance to banish the ghost of Bernard Brogan: he is named at corner-back in a reshuffled defence.

LAOIS confine themselves to just one change. Peter O'Leary is sidelined with a knee injury, so his place in defence goes to Mark Timmons.

WEXFORD'S line-up contains no surprises for Sunday's Leinster SFC showdown with the Dubs, as Jason Ryan has persisted with the 15 that overcame Carlow.

MICHAEL MEEHAN will start his first game of 2011 as Galway seek to kickstart a disastrous season away to Meath. The Caltra marksman made his comeback off the bench in the Connacht semi-final defeat to Mayo, without suffering any reaction to an ankle injury that has dogged him for almost a year. Embattled manager Tomás ó Flatharta has made five changes in all.

LIMERICK hurlers have a score to settle with Antrim's management team when the sides clash in tomorrow's All-Ireland qualifier at Parnell Park, according to Limerick physical trainer Jerry Wallace.

Wallace (who was involved with Antrim last season) has revealed how a flashpoint during the sides' NHL Division Two encounter at Loughgiel earlier this season has left the Shannonsiders will all the motivation they need.

"After about half-an-hour of the game there was an incident when a member of the Antrim management came along the sideline and remonstrated with some Limerick players who were in our dugout," he explained.

"There was a confrontation involving several people which settled down fairly quickly but the matter flared up again at half-time as both teams and management were coming off the field ... Limerick players have brought that to our attention again during this last week and I think it'll be a big motivation for them this weekend."

DAVY FITZGERALD has distanced himself from feverish speculation linking the Waterford boss with the managerial vacancy in his native Clare -- because all his thoughts, for the moment, are focused on Sunday's Munster SHC final against Tipperary.

"I couldn't even think about that. I am with Waterford and I've a job to do. The Waterford County Board gave me a one-year term last year -- and I want to do my best with that."


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