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Lilies fear no one: Sweeney

Kildare forward Ronan Sweeney reckons that Paul Grimley's knowledge of the Lilywhites will have no bearing on the qualifier with Monaghan.

Grimley spent the last two years as a member of the Kildare management before decamping to Monaghan via another scuppered attempt at becoming manager of his native Armagh.

The Pearse Óg man will know all the personalities inside the opposition's dressing room but Sweeney reckons that so much has changed in the past six months that it will have little or no relevance.

"There's gonna be a lot of talk in the media about that but there's no point in us worrying about it," said Sweeney.

"I don't know if we're the same team as we were last year to be honest with you. A lot has changed since Paul was with us.

"Monaghan are probably happy to get us but at this stage it doesn't matter who you get. Genuinely, I didn't mind who we got as long as we were in the draw.

"It's back to neutral venues now too and I hope it will be in Croke Park. That's where you want to play.

"It'll probably come down to whoever recovers the quickest form their weekend's games."

Kildare maintained their unbeaten record in qualifiers under Kieran McGeeney to move inexorably past Derry to the final round.

Traditionally, the county did not fare well through the back door but everything McGeeney has done since arriving at the end of 2007 has been about breaking down perceived wisdom.

To his mind, Kildare were viewed by their opponents as weak. They could be bullied physically and mentally.

On Saturday they recovered from the concession of a Raymond Wilkinson goal after just 70 seconds to lead at half time and win comfortably, after completely dominating the middle third.

In the past, it was customary for a Kildare forward line to be the butt of many a joke. They would never score enough to win and would kick a host of wides while losing.

At Celtic Park, they rattled up 2-17, 2-9 into the wind in the second half. They accumulated just six wides, none in the second half.

You could take it as read that Kildare teams wouldn't win up north but that's two victories in the space of seven days now after Antrim's defeat in Belfast.

Taking to the qualifiers with a relish that had rarely been seen since their inception is just another strand of the McGeeney effect, plus the willingness of the players to buy into a different ethos.

While Derry wilted badly, they did so under incessant Kildare pressure. Eamonn Callaghan was at the hub of the engine room, as a ball-winner and playmaker, yet still found time to plunder 1-4.

Johnny Doyle's free-taking was back on song while he adopted a Brian Dooher role with apparent relish, even winning a free on his own 13m line in the first half.

Despite operating on one leg, Dermot Earley was hugely influential and his junior partner Daryl Flynn continuing to flourish, while Emmet Bolton, Pádraig O'Neill and Peter Kelly also had big games.

"I have faith in this bunch of lads and have since I came in. I think they're well capable of competing for major honours. As long as they get stronger mentally week-in, week-out, the football is there, there's no questioning their football ability," said McGeeney.


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