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McIver's Derry onslaught will see Lilies wither

DERRY v KILDARE

(Celtic Park, Tomorrow 3.0)

THE good news according to Jason Ryan's gospel? Kildare's prodigious long-term injury list is finally starting to shrink, all of which should stiffen their summer resolve. The bad news? By the time all these absentees are back in harness, the Lilies could have fallen through a relegation trap door.

A campaign started in a blaze of glory against Mayo has mutated into a damp squib. There aren't too many ways to dress up four straight defeats, and even the 'what if?' excuses (if they hadn't gifted Tyrone two late goals, if they had converted all their goal chances against Dublin) had run out by the time Kerry outclassed Kildare.

On a good day, travelling north with momentum and confidence, you would view this as a difficult assignment. Instead, Kildare's early-season surge has totally stalled, belief must be fragile and they face – in Derry – a team that has bucked lowly expectations to stand on the cusp of the semi-finals.

Brian McIver's men should seal that particular deal with a game to spare.

ODDS: Derry 1/2, Draw 8/1, Kildare 21/10

VERDICT: Derry

WESTMEATH v KERRY

(Mullingar, Tomorrow 3.0)

QUESTION: How can a team that lost its first three games in Division One, and is now playing away, be rated a lopsided 1/8 to achieve victory tomorrow? Answer: When that team is Kerry and they're facing Westmeath.

Barring a surreal transformation of recent trends, the most predictable demotion in recent memory will be officially confirmed at 4.30 tomorrow when Kerry inflict a sixth straight defeat on Paul Bealin's midlanders.

The strange part involves Kerry. Having lost to Dublin, Derry and Mayo – while losing Colm Cooper in the process – the spectre of relegation loomed large.

Now, they could sneak into the semi-finals by beating Westmeath and then Cork on the last day. Don't bet against it either, given the explosive form of James O'Donoghue, a forward intent on reminding us all that Kerry have two current All Stars and are not a beaten docket without the Gooch.

ODDS: Westmeath 6/1, Draw 14/1, Kerry 1/8

VERDICT: Kerry


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