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Leinster SFC semi-final – Kildare v Westmeath – Croke Park – 2:00 pm
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Kildare will go head to head with Leinster rivals Westmeath at Croke Park this coming Sunday at 2:00 as the first of a doubleheader in the first Leinster Senior Football Championship semi-final.
The lily whites have been impressive this term, topping their Division 2 South group before defeating narrowly defeated Meath in the semi-final, gaining promotion to Divison 1 along with Mayo.
Their only defeat being against Clare, Jack O’Connor has improved his side since his appointment in 2019.
They overcame a strong-willed Offaly side in the quarter-final by a score of 1-15 to 0-13 last week and come into this game as favourites.
Westmeath endured a horrible league run, losing all three games, but playing heroically for the vast majority of those games.
Eventually losing to fellow strugglers Cork in the relegation semi-final, they were relegated down to Division 3 along with the team they faced in the Leinster quarter-finals Laois.
Last year, neither side looked strong enough to challenge Dublin, or at least compete with them.
Meath hammered Kildare in the semi-final, while Westmeath held their own against the Dubs, being eliminated in the quarter-finals.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Jack O’Connor has not put his stamp on his side as of yet, playing a decent style of football throughout the league and looking good going forward.
They do, however, lack something of a clinical nature in their squad, not being able to finish of teams nor having that one standout player to see them through games.
Their opponents on the other hand lack a noticeable style to their game. Throughout the league, and especially in their loss to Mayo they leaned towards playing the long ball into the full-forward line.
If that didn’t work, the players would retreat and look void of ideas.
No matter what, Dublin will beat both sides with relative ease, but out of the two contenders, I can only see Kildare winning this one.
Stronger going forward, a better and experienced manager who is a proven winner. The lily whites should have enough to progress.
Prediction: Kildare by 12 points
Westmeath: Jason Daly; Jamie Gonoud, Kevin Maguire (captain), Boidu Sayeh; James Dolan, Ronan Wallace, Sam McCartan; Ray Connellan, Sam Duncan; Denis Corroon, Ger Egan, David Lynch; Lorcan Dolan, John Heslin, Ronan O’Toole.
Kildare : Mark Donnellan; Mark Dempsey, Mick O’Grady, Eoin Doyle; Kevin Flynn, David Hyland, Ryan Houlihan; Kevin Feely, Aaron Masterson; Conor Hartley, Fergal Conway, Neil Flynn; Darragh Kirwan, Ben McCormack, Jimmy Hyland.