Yesterday we saw Donegal recover from their first round defeat to Dublin and Kerry will be hoping for a similar outcome when they head to Clones to face Monaghan. Meanwhile, Galway will be aiming for a place in the semi-final with a victory over Kildare. We preview all of the action before the throw-in.
Kildare v Galway: Newbridge, 2pm
While it was an unconvincing performance, Galway did enough last weekend to overcome a poor Kerry and a second victory today would secure them a place in the All Ireland semi-finals. They travel to Newbridge today, a venue that has been kind to it’s home team of late but that should be of no relevance to Kevin Walsh’s side. They travel today without Paul Conroy who suffered a horrific double-leg break during that victory in Croke Park but they do have two of the best forwards in the country in Damien Comer and Shane Walsh. Kildare did very little to trouble Monaghan last weekend but the Connacht champions will be wary of Daniel Flynn and the threat he poses.
Flynn was the shining light for Kildare in that 1-10 to 0-15 point loss, scoring 1-1 while having a hand in a number of other scores. Cian O’Neill will know that a place in the semi-finals is not a realistic expectation with a game against Kerry in Killarney still to come. However this is still a team that has defied expectation this summer and he will want to prove that their wins were no fluke. They are not heading to Newbridge just to make up the numbers. They need to exploit the weaknesses in the Galway defence as they did against Mayo and put their midfield pairing of Tommy Moolick and Kevin Feely to better use. But Galway are the superior team and beating another giant of football should prove a step too far for Kildare this summer.
Monaghan v Kerry: Clones, 4pm
Kerry were unusually poor last weekend and were nowhere near the composed and clinical team we saw in the Munster final. Of course much of that is down to their opposition as it was the first time they had been properly tested this summer and they fell way short of the mark. All eyes will be on them this week to see how they recover. Their passing was poor, their decision making atrocious while their finishing left a lot to be desired. Paul Geaney was uncharacteristically quiet with David Clifford picking up the scoring mantle with 1-4 from play. While their defence has been shaky at times, this still is a team of superstars who are capable of turning a game around with the kick of a ball. We will see today whether last week’s dismal performance was a once-off or whether Kerry just aren’t at the races this summer. They have nothing to lose, leaving them a dangerous outfit who are clinging to survival.
Monaghan will be wary of the injured beast but they do have the two point advantage over their Munster rivals and that will stand to them regardless of the result. They looked very assured in their win over Kildare at the weekend and will feel that they performed better than the final scoreline reflected having won with only a two point margin. They are a team who back themselves and have been going about their business of late without warranting too much attention. Conor McManus seems back to his best while Niall Kearns and Karl O’Connell have also been in sparkling form. With all the pressure on Kerry and with the added bonus of home advantage, they will be quietly confident of sending the Kingdom packing today. You would imagine however, that Kerry have that little bit more experience to see them over the line.