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Meath and Kildare have had the luxury of avoiding Dublin in Leinster before a potential final. But, these two sides are well-matched and a place in the final will have to be earned. Last year, Meath made it to the Leinster decider where they lost to Dublin. Likewise, Kildare lost to Dublin in their last Leinster Final in 2017.
Last weekend, Kildare hit 0-20 to beat the challenge of Offaly. Despite their impressive scoreline, the Lilywhites were never comfortably ahead. A total of 14 wides is a very wasteful statistic and Jack O’Connor will be sure that his team rectify their efficiency in front of goal before this semi-final.
O’Connor put faith in his young guns and they rewarded him with a strong performance. Darragh Kirwan was dangerous in the forward line alongside Jimmy Hyland and the returning Daniel Flynn. In midfield, Aaron Masterson made an impressive debut by controlling the middle third.
Perhaps most impressively, Shea Ryan won his battle at full-back against Offaly’s danger man Niall McNamee. A clean sheet for Kildare is a great confidence booster, especially in the midst of knock-out Championship. But, Offaly had goal chances and O’Connor will know that Meath can threaten Mark Donnellan’s goal.
Kildare have all the tools to launch an attack on the Leinster Championship. But, they need to use them to full effect to reach their potential. The game against the royals could be exactly what they need as they will be punished for not performing.
Meath make their mark
Meath are here after beating Wicklow emphatically. On paper, the game was a mismatch and Meath proved it by turning the screw on their Division 4 opponents.
Despite being relegated from Division 1 after earning just one point on the final day, Meath were impressive against some top tier opposition. For example, they hit 0-19 against Dublin in the first game back after lockdown. Then, they showed some steel to steal a late draw with Monaghan.
As a result, Meath entered the Championship with optimism and Andy McEntee’s team proved their worth last Sunday. It was a successful Championship debut for Jordan Morris. The U-20 player scored 3-4 (two goals from the penalty spot) in an all-round impressive performance. In addition, McEntee avoided any injuries by running his bench in the final 20 minutes. Last year’s Leinster finalists never let up. To illustrate, they scored 4 goals in the final 15 minutes.
This prolific attitude in front of goal is exactly what could see them past Kildare.
Whatever team emerges victorious on Sunday will go into the Leinster final well prepared for what comes next.
This game is live on RTÉ News’ Channel.
Paddy Power expect Meath to win. They’re 8/11 as opposed to Kildare’s 11/8. A draw is far from unlikely and is priced at 15/2.
Prediction: Draw. This could be a high-scoring shootout in which a goal could prove to be a game winner. If it does go to extra time, Meath may just have that extra bit in the tank.
Facts and Figures
They last met in the championship three years ago when Kildare won a Leinster semi-final by nine points.
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP CLASHES
2017: Kildare 2-16 Meath 0-13 (Leinster semi-final)
2014: Meath 2-16 Kildare 0-17 (Leinster semi-final)
2012: Meath 1-17 Kildare 1-11 (Leinster semi-final)
2011: Kildare 0-16 Meath 0-10 (Leinster quarter-final)
2010: Kildare 2-17 Meath 1-12 (All-Ireland quarter-final)
*Meath are attempting to reach the Leinster final for a second successive year: Kildare were last there in 2017.
*Meath, for whom Jordan Morris scored 3-4, beat Wicklow by 7-14 to 0-7 in the quarter final. Kildare beat Offaly by 0-20 to 0-16 in their quarter-final.
*The last competitive clash between the counties was in the 2019 Allianz League when Meath won by a point.
Kildare – Mark Donnellan; Mark Dempsey, Shea Ryan, Darragh Malone; David Hyland, Con Kavanagh, Kevin Flynn; Kevin Feely, Aaron Masterson; Matty Byrne, Ben McCormack, Paddy Brophy; Daniel Flynn, Darragh Kirwan, Jimmy Hyland.
Meath Meath (Leinster SFC v Kildare): Marcus Brennan; Seamus Lavin, Conor McGill, David Toner; Donal Keogan, Shane McEntee, Matthew Costello; Bryan Menton, Ronan Jones; Cillian O’Sullivan, Bryan McMahon, Ronan Ryan; Jordan Morris, Shane Walsh, Thomas O’Reilly.
Subs: Andrew Colgan, Eamon Wallace, Cathal Hickey, Eoin Harkin, Brian Conlon, Ethan Devine, Joey Wallace, Jason Scully, James Conlon, Donal Lenihan, Darragh Campion.
Leinster Championship Semi-Final: Meath vs Kildare, Sunday, 15th November, 13:00 (Croke Park).
— The GAA (@officialgaa) November 10, 2020