Kildare and Tyrone meet in the first round of the Allianz National Football League in Croke Park on Saturday evening (5.00pm). Both these sides have been in tremendous form in pre-season competitions and supporters can expect a close and hard-fought battle this weekend.
The Lilywhites defeated their old rivals Dublin in the semi-final of the O’Byrne Cup and were due to meet DCU in the final of that series last Sunday. However, the weather put paid to those plans and the side now face Tyrone without having secured the title. Ronan Sweeney has been in excellent form for Kieran McGeeney’s men this year and has led the side from midfield.
He has been contributing a fair share of points as well and will be a handful for the Ulster outfit on Saturday. Mikey Conway has also been making his mark in early season games and is a forward that should be watched in 2012. Kildare have little fear of northern teams and have proved more than a match for Tyrone in recent seasons. They will certainly put it up to the Red Hands in the opening game of the league.
Tyrone claimed the McKenna Cup last weekend with an easy victory over Derry. All the established stars showed up well for Micky Harte’s side, with Owen Mulligan and Stephen O’Neill to the fore. While the side will undoubtedly be keen to try out some of their fringe players during the league campaign, backboned by the older players, they will prove a match for most in this division.
The team have been slow starters in recent seasons but appear to have changed their plans in 2012. It is likely that Micky Harte wants to return to top tier football next season and sees this league campaign as the opportunity to do so.
In what is certain to be a tight game between two of the stronger counties, Kildare are given a narrow verdict to see off Tyrone. The Leinster side always hit the ground running in the league and will have taken plenty of confidence from their defeat of Dublin in the O’Byrne Cup. There is unlikely to be very much between the sides and a handicap of 1.5 points would be worth a bet so click here to place a bet.