Tyrone v Kildare, Division 1 semi-final, Sunday 2pm
By Rory Houston
Tyrone and Kildare meet in the first Allianz Football League semi-final in Croke Park, with Mickey Harte making a host of changes as he has done throughout the early season.
PJ Quinn and Dermot Carlin are handed first appearances in the league. Conor Clarke, Matthew Donnelly, Conor Gormley and Martin Penrose also feature in a much-changed team that fell short in attempting a comeback win over Kerry.
It is ten years since Tyrone last reached a league final and their form to date has been impressive, losing just two games including the match with the Kingdom, which was in a sense a meaningless game for them.
Kildare have been inconsistent in the first few months of the year and that is the big challenge for Kieran McGeeney and his backroom team.
They have laboured, sometimes shone, but never found a lasting rhythm and spine to be considered major contenders for the campaign ahead.
Having progressed to the last four there is a big opportunity to prove they are a force and can rise to these occasions.
"Reaching this stage was vital to the Lilywhite’s season"
Reaching this stage was vital to the Lilywhite’s season. While McGeeney will stress his team’s capabilities in the dressing-room and in public, only will a significant success in the second biggest competition showcase his belief.
There is a lot to be positive about, with the likes of Niall Kelly, Paddy Brophy and Daniel Flynn part of a flourishing under-21 side and that is an extremely good sign of the talent coming through their ranks.
The lift of a league triumph added to the Leinster underage success could really change their approach to summer.
Eoin Doyle told RTÉ Sport this week that this game can have a say on their Championship performance.
He said: “You’d have to be happy with getting to a league semi-final. We’ve had some good results in the campaign but we’ve also had a few bad ones.
“We got a right thumping against Dublin here one day. There’s still a lot of room for improvement and it’s something that we’re going to have to look at coming up against Offaly in the Championship so that’s what we are focussing on.”
If the Leinster side can take early scoring opportunities, something they were punished for not doing in that earlier meeting, it may stifle Tyrone and a repeat of the result in the Division 2 final last year could be on the cards.
Tyrone: N Morgan; PJ Quinn, C Clarke, C McCarron;D Carlin, Mattie Donnelly, C Gormley; C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh; J McMahon, P Harte, Mark Donnelly; M Penrose, S O’Neill, D McCurry.
Kildare: M Donnelan; O Lyons M Foley, H McGrille; P Kelly, E Doyle, P Cribbin; D Flynn, P O’Neill; D Flynn, N Kelly, E O’Faherty; S Johnston, A Smith, J Doyle.
Live radio coverage of the Allianz National Leagues from 14:00 on Sunday 14 April on RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ RnaG and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).
Highlights of all the weekend’s Allianz League action on League Sunday on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only) from 20:00.