National Football League Division Two
Kildare v Cavan
Sunday, Newbridge, 2pm
By Niall Gartland
WE can only surmise what’s been going on in Cavan training in the last week or so, but it seems likely that they’ll be working on adopting a more incisive approach after they fell short against Clare on March 1.
The Breffni County’s unbeaten run of three matches came to a grinding halt on that occasion, and they’d no-one to blame but themselves as their indirectness meant they struggled to make headway against a determined Clare defence.
In the end-up, they lost out by 1-14 to 0-15 and that means they still have an outside chance of relegation ahead of their final league fixtures against Kildare and Roscommon.
As things stand, they’re third in the table and have six points, but there could be a considerable swing this weekend if they lost to the Lilywhites.
Manager Mickey Graham will be annoyed that they lost by Clare because on a man-to-man basis they’re the superior team.
In saying that, league form tends to oscillate and they were facing a team that were in desperate need of the two points. They also showed some good spirit as well – they were 1-8 to 0-5 in arrears at half-time but scored five unanswered points after half-time to almost plug the gap.
However, they could never quite get there, and it was ultimately an opportunity missed.
Kildare have had a poor league campaign to date but they kept their hopes of survival alive with a win over Leinster rivals Laois a fortnight ago.
They won by five points but the gap would’ve been even larger if they hadn’t hit a string of wides in the first-half.
It was a much-needed victory as they received an avalanche of criticism when they lost their previous league encounter a week earlier against Roscommon. They showed a real willingness to fight for the dirty ball, which isn’t something that’s been associated with Kildare teams of the last few years, but their decision-making and execution under pressure hasn’t been great throughout the league.
Still, if they win both of their final two matches they could still be in with a shout of promotion even though they are second-from-last in this hotly contested Division Two at the moment (subject to the disclaimer that the matches mightn’t even get played due to coronavirus).
They have a few danger-men that Cavan will keep a close eye on: the dynamic Kevin Feely covered every blade of grass against Laois, Adam Tyrrell knows where the posts are, while one of their their most naturally gifted players, Daniel Flynn, has a tendency to blow hot and cold.
The Cavan starting team has a fairly settled look to it at present, and the players can’t be faulted for effort at the moment. However, they have a lack of cutting edge up front even though Oisin Pierson is to be commended for stepping up to the plate so far this season.
The retirement of Cian Mackey is a particular hammerblow as he was one of their only players with the guile to jink his way through an opposition defence, but the players should see his absence as a challenge to prove themselves to the doubters that they have what it takes to climb up the ranks in Ulster.
They still have the potential to achieve promotion if they win their final two matches, and it would take something catastrophic to end up getting relegated.
Kildare will be up for this one, however, and they face an in-form Roscommon on the last day, so they have a tough run-in of fixtures.
In saying that, and we have to mention this again, who knows what’s going to happen over the coming fortnight anyway with Coronavirus set to cause massive disruption around the country.