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Energy and Courage: John Maughan, Mick O'Dwyer and Larry Tompkins on how to test Dubs


Dublin’s Paul Flynn in action against Kildare’s Emmet Bolton during their Leinster SFC clash in 2013. Dublin won that game 4-16 to 1-9

Dublin’s Paul Flynn in action against Kildare’s Emmet Bolton during their Leinster SFC clash in 2013. Dublin won that game 4-16 to 1-9


Dublin’s Paul Flynn in action against Kildare’s Emmet Bolton during their Leinster SFC clash in 2013. Dublin won that game 4-16 to 1-9

The Game: Dublin v Kildare The Challenge: Devise a method by which Kildare can match Dublin, who are seeking a 14th successive win in the Leinster championship and who have lost only one of their last 32 provincial games, stretching over 11 seasons. The Strategists: Mick O'Dwyer, Larry Tompkins, John Maughan. The Starting Point: Dublin have won their last seven Leinster games by an average of 16 points and are 1/40 to win tomorrow.

How should Kildare set up?

O'Dwyer: "I'd drop the two midfielders back to tighten the defence and have the wing-forwards pull out towards midfield. Kildare have to block off as much space as possible in their own half, but they need an attacking plan too.

"If there's any weakness in Dublin, it's on the defensive side. You've got to hit them with quick attacks. No point working the ball over and back, hoping to find a gap.

"Go quick and direct. Interchange the corner-forwards all the time, move the full-forward in an out. Make Dublin think. To make it all work, you've got be very accurate. That's where basic skills come in. Don't give the ball away with sloppy passing. You'll have enough to worry about without making simple mistakes.

Tompkins: "The first thing the Kildare players have to do is stand up and be counted. You can have all the plans and tactics and formations you like but you're at nothing if you don't have a raw, wild determination to win.

"And if things start going against you, double your efforts. Be as driven as you have to be. This is what you've trained for.

"Tactics-wise, be as negative as you have to be. It mightn't make for a great spectacle but if the powers-that-be don't seem to mind how Gaelic football is played, it's not up to Kildare - or any other team for that matter - to try and sort it out.

"Pack the defence, suffocate Dublin and see how they like it. Anyone can play well when they're allowed to but it's different when the pressure comes on as Dublin found against Donegal last year. Rotate players back and forth - break when the chance arises. Most of all - be in Dublin's faces all the time. It's 15 v 15 - remember that."

Maughan: "I wouldn't go with a massed defence and everyone behind the ball. Remember how Dublin kicked points from all over the place early on against Donegal last year. It was only when Donegal fell behind and came out to play that the pattern changed.

"Admittedly, Dublin could have been out the gate by then, but they weren't. Dublin will expect Kildare to set up very defensively so give them something else to think about.

"Sligo did it brilliantly against Roscommon last Saturday, making sure they had men back but also keeping the attacking lines open. By all means, populate the midfield area but make sure you have four forwards well up all the time. Kildare should go out and express themselves. Have a cut. Getting 13 behind the ball won't do any better for them."

Big fears for Kildare?

Tompkins: "I doubt if they have the physique to cope with Dublin. That works against you in two ways. You're not able to break tackles when you have the ball and you struggle to contain the guy who's coming at you when he's in possession."

O'Dwyer: "The first 15 minutes are vital for Kildare. Dublin had the game won by then against Longford. Kildare have to make sure they don't let that happen. If they do, it will be a long day for them.

Maughan: "Dublin are well ahead of Kildare in the physical stakes but then they have been together for a lot longer. The fear I'd have for Kildare is that even if they're playing well, they'll be using an awful lot of energy to stay with physically stronger opponents. That gets to you in the end."

Is there any way Kildare can make up for the physique imbalance?

Maughan: "Not this year. The likes of Donegal, Kerry, Mayo and Dublin have been at this for a good few years and now have squads of very powerful athletes. It's easier to keep that going when a team is doing well because fewer changes are needed from year to year and the squad is settled.

"Less successful teams have to make changes and it can take new players some time to get to the required physical pitch.

O'Dwyer: "In my book, it's a great pity that Tomás Connor isn't on the Kildare team. He left the panel earlier in year - I can only assume he was unhappy with the amount of games he was getting.

"He never seemed to get a decent run. If I had him, I'd work morning, noon and night to build his confidence. Make him a main man. Build his self-belief. I always liked to have a big man in the full-forward line and Connor is a right big one. The stock is good too! Kildare would be stronger if they had him tomorrow.

Tompkins: "I'm a Connor fan too. He has the ability to win possession and he uses it well. He has a good football brain. I can't believe Kildare didn't get more out of him. If he was in Kerry, they would! A big man with a good head for the game could cause the Dublin full-back line a lot of problems."

Any positives for Kildare to work off?

O'Dwyer: "There's no such thing as a certainty is sport. Kildare played very well against Laois in the second half of the replay, which will have raised their confidence. They've got to believe in themselves and not show Dublin too much respect."

Tompkins: "There are always positives. Belief comes from within. The odds are all against Kildare so every single player should harness that and use it as motivation. Anything is possible in sport - they have to believe that."

Maughan: "All the talk seems to be about how much Dublin will win by so the question is: how will that view impact on their players? When a team is as dominant as Dublin have been in Leinster for so long, it can be hard for players to be as focused as they would be for an All-Ireland game.

"If Dublin drop their performance level, Kildare have to ready to exploit it. I think will do better than most people seem to think.

Impressions of the championship so far?

O'Dwyer: "It's hard to see beyond Kerry, Dublin and Donegal for the All-Ireland. You never know, of course, but you'd have to fancy one of those three. They're looking very good"

Tompkins: "Donegal look the team to beat right now. You'd have to be impressed with them so far. They look a better team now than in last year's All-Ireland. But they they didn't start Paddy McBrearty, Martin McElhinney and Christy Toye in the final for reasons I can never understand."

Maughan: "It's hard to see anyone coming out of pack ahead of Kerry, Dublin, Mayo and Donegal.

"Kerry blew Tipperary away with a half-strength team; Dublin have looked goo all year; Mayo looked a bit rusty against Galway but they'll be okay. Donegal seem to be getting better - their performances against Tyrone and Armagh, who they blew away, were first class."

Big match facts

  • Kildare are bidding to reach the Leinster final for the first time since 2009, when they lost to Dublin They last won the title in 2000, beating Dublin in a replay. That was also their last championship win over Dublin.
  • Dublin's winning margin in their last seven Leinster championship games ranged from seven to 27 points. Meath ran them closest in the 2013 Leinster final, losing by 2-15 to 0-14.
  • Dublin beat Kildare by 4-16 to 1-9 in their last championship clash (2013 Leinster semi-final). Eoghan O'Gara (1-2) was Dublin's top scorer on a day when they had nine scorers. Dublin beat the Lilywhites by 1-22 to 1-12 in their last League clash (March 2014).
  • Jim Gavin's championship record since taking over as Dublin manager for the 2013 seasons is: Played 12, Won 11, Lost 1. The only defeat came against Donegal in last year's All-Ireland semi-final.
  • Jason's Ryan is in his second season as Kildare manager with championship results as follows: Played 7, Won 4, Drew 1, Lost 2.
  • Other than Meath in the 2010 Leinster semi-final, no Leinster team has beaten Dublin in the championship since Westmeath in the 2004 provincial quarter-final. Meath beat Dublin by 5-9 to 0-13 in 2010. Dublin are bidding to complete the second Leinster five-in-a-row in 11 seasons this year. Kevin Heffernans's great Dubs team of the 1970's won six-in-a-row in 1974-79.
  • Kildare have reached only one (2009) Leinster final since 2003.
  • Dublin's Leinster semi-final record since the turn of the Millennium is as follows: Played 14, Won 12, Lost 2. Kildare have won four and lost six of 10 appearance in the same period.

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