Saturday 21 April 2018

Micko on the opposition...

THERE'S no greater expert than Mick O'Dwyer on the four counties who line out in Portlaoise tomorrow since he manages one (Wicklow), is ex-manager of two others (Kildare, Laois), while he coached the manager of the fourth (Longford) for 10 years. Here's his take on Kildare, Laois and Longford.

Kildare

"With a few lucky breaks, they might have been starting this year's championship as All-Ireland winners. They were unlucky to lose to Down in the semi-final and if they had got through there, who knows what might have happened against Cork?

"They have done very well in the qualifiers over the last few years so we'd love to send them down that route again!

"I have always had a special affection for Kildare, going back to my earliest playing days. It's a great football county and I have to say that the two stints I spent there were fantastic for pure enjoyment.

"Kieran McGeeney (pictured) has done a fine job with them and we're hearing reports again of how well they're going. They would have been a bit disappoin-ted not to get out of Division 2, but the championship was always the priority, so I wouldn't read too much into the league. They're good, but we'll be having a right go at them."

Laois

"I like the look of this squad. I've been saying it for a few years that they weren't doing themselves justice, but it can only be a matter of time before they make a move.

"They have been producing fine young players for a long time and while that doesn't guarantee anything at senior level, it's a help. Getting into Division 1 was a big lift for Justin McNulty in his first few months in charge and you'd have to fancy Laois to have a good championship too, whether through Leinster or the qualifiers.

I had some good times in Laois, but we didn't get much luck. After winning the Leinster final in 2003, we lost to the then All-Ireland champions Armagh by two points.

"We lost quite a few important championship games by a single score over the next few years too. I was surprised they went into a bit of dip over the last few seasons."

Longford

"I still say that if Glenn Ryan hadn't been injured for the 1998 All-Ireland final against Galway, it would have been a different story. He played, but he wasn't on full power.

"He was a marvellous player and it certainly hasn't surprised me that he went into management. A great leader, he was captain when I was at Kildare and was made for the job.

"He has got things moving in Longford, so this is a tricky tie for Laois. Longford beat Mayo in last year's qualifiers and lost only once in Division 4 this year, so they're on a roll.

"A lot of the good young talent of recent years is coming through to the senior squad, so things are very much on the up for them."

Irish Independent

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