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The winner of Kildare vs Westmeath could well find themselves in Division1 next season if Armagh fail to win against Clare. Both these teams had impressive outings last weekend after the long break. If that is any suggestion of what is to come in round, this game will be a high-scoring thriller.
Firstly, Kildare racked up 1-21 against Cavan. 2018 U20 Player of the Year Jimmy Hyland had 0-9 of his own. Fergal Conway’s 52nd minute goal was the only major of the game. It came in the third quarter that saw Kildare outscore Cavan 1-5 vs 0-2. However, Kildare took their foot off the gas then. Cavan were unlucky to not find the net in injury time when there was just three points in it. Jack O’Connor will be looking for a strong 70 minutes from his side in round 7.
Secondly, Westmeath outshone Laois in Mullingar. Johnny Heslin was the standout performer with 8 points. Leading 0-12 vs 0-5 at the midway point, Westmeath demonstrated great game management. They kept the scoreboard ticking over as the game went on. As a result, Jamie Gonoud’s goal in the 63rd minute effectively killed the game.
If Sunday’s game is as close as to be expected, Kildare cannot afford to pull up early again. If they do, Westmeath have shown they can punish them by finishing strongly.
Darragh Kirwan made a very impressive debut that saw him kick 0-4 from full-forward. In the absence of Niall Kelly, Daniel Flynn, and Jack Robinson, Jack O’Connor’s new-look forward line more than sufficed.
Kirwan, Hyland, and Ben McCormack hit 0-15 of Kildare’s 1-21. Therefore, you can expect O’Connor to capitalise on this momentum and use the same formula against Westmeath.
Elsewhere, O’Connor has a full squad to choose from.
Westmeath face Dublin in the Leinster Championship. Thus, Jack Cooney could decide to throw all his cards on the table for round 7 of the league and go for promotion. Dublin may be a team in transition. But, in a knock-out Championship they could have a short season unless they play the game of their lives.
With that in mind, it would be understandable to see Cooney use his strongest selection at every opportunity.
Prediction: Draw. Remarkably, no game finished all-square last weekend. But, with the cobwebs now dusted off, teams have expectations going into games. Kildare are impressive up top. Yet, Westmeath are going to go all-out for this one. So, a stalemate in Newbridge is highly possible.
Kildare vs Westmeath: Division 1, Saturday, October 24th, 2pm (Newbridge).
— The GAA (@officialgaa) October 20, 2020