National Football League Division Two – Down vs Kildare (7pm Pairc Esler)

Updated: March 18, 2017
Kildare footballers

Seven years ago, these two teams clashed in the All-Ireland semi-final.  Both have fallen on hard times since but with potential resurgences being touted, this could be Division Two’s game of the week.

Following 14 consecutive losses, Down are back in the winners’ enclosure with successes over Meath and Derry.  They haven’t lost to Kildare in five league encounters with their 3-13 to 1-15 win in Newbridge in 2015 their most recent victory.

Promotion is a realistic target for the Mourne men but, with just four points separating first and last, defeat could send them spiralling towards relegation trouble again.

Gerard McGovern is a major doubt after he went off injured at half-time against Derry.  Darren O’Hagan, Darragh O’Hanlon and Brendan McArdle lead the defence; Aidan Carr and Peter Turley are developing a midfield partnership; Kevin McKernan, Conor Maginn, Joe Murphy and Barry O’Hagan form the attacking threats.

Kildare sit top and two wins from three should secure promotion.  Cian O’Neill has suffered a major blow with Neil Flynn out for the remainder of the league following surgery for appendicitis and Ben McCormack is still absent due to a hamstring injury.

Wins against Meath, Cork and Fermanagh were tempered with their late loss to Derry but Kildare are going well.  Mark Donnellan is settled in goal; David Hyland, Ollie Lyons, Johnny Byrne, Eoin Doyle and Keith Cribbin are the main players in defence; Kevin Feely and Tommy Moolick are a formidable midfield unit; Fergal Conway, Niall Kelly and Chris Healy are very capable forwards.

Down are 11/8, Kildare 8/11 with the draw 15/2.  Despite the tight nature of the second tier, Kildare have looked the top team and should maintain that position.

Verdict: Kildare

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