For the second round in a row two Kildare Schools will do battle in the Br.Bosco Leinster A Schools Football Championship as Naas CBS and Scoil Mhuire Clane lock horns tomorrow afternoon.
With the help of Shane O'Sullivan and Sam McCormack who scored 1-12 between them Scoil Mhuire eased past Patrician of Newbridge in their last outing but Naas CBS will offer up a very different test.
Naas are the defending champions and have been ultra impressive thus far in blowing away all incomers.
It just shows the strength and depth in Naas and the surrounding clubs that they are so competitive again this term as they have lost the bulk of last year's team with joint captains Colm Joyce and Killian Thompson no longer available as well as Kildare Under 20 panellists Luke Griffin, Colm Joyce and Brian Stynes.
Despite those losses Naas are bringing through a new type of player and a few of them would have tasted success over Clane in last year’s Minor Final with David Morrissey, Alex Beirne, Paddy McDermott, Dermot Hanafin, Jack Cleary, Drew Costello and Eoin Archbold all playing that day.
Naas are favourites in many people's eyes to retain their title and when you see how good they were in the wins over St. Aidans, Maynooth PP, St.Benildus and St.Mels Longford it’s easy to take that viewpoint.
Unlike their opponents who are predominantly from the one club, Naas CBS call on a number of clubs with seven represented on the team that beat St.Mels in the quarter-final.
Naas will more than likely have a couple of changes from that victory as Eadestown's Eoin Conneff went down with a serious looking hamstring injury while Two Mile House's Tony O'Connor will again be available after being club-tied the last day.
Despite that Naas's biggest asset is indeed their squad and that was portrayed in all its glory when team manager Ronan Joyce made 15 changes for their dead rubber group game against St.Benildus but it made little difference as the Leinster Champions cruised to victory.
The opposition will be underdogs but they will still quietly fancy their chances and with Padraig Carbury in charge, why wouldn't they and he would have managed a number of the Naas players during his stint as Kildare Minor Football manager
Unlike Naas they have been defeated already with Colaiste Eoin dishing out a hammering to the Clane School on their home patch before Christmas but they still did enough to qualify and they improved no end for the Patrician game.
In that quarter-final there were remarkably 12 starters from Clane with only Shane O'Connor, Arlo Graham and Eoghan O'Haire coming from outside clubs.
Clane are heavily backboned by O'Sullivan, McCormack and James Behan who were influential in the club's victory over Naas in the Under 21 Final at the back end of 2018 and they will need all three on top form here.
A lot will be expected of O'Sullivan in particular and after helping Kildare to an All Ireland Under 20 title last year he will be a marked man and if Naas can shut him down they may be halfway to getting the job done.
The vast majority of the players on show are almost sick to the sight of each other at this stage after facing off in those two underage finals last year and playing together on various County squads.
On the Minor team alone you had Clane's John Lynch and Eoghan O'Haire of Newtown Gaels representing Scoil Mhuire while Naas had the likes of Morrissey, Beirne, McDermott, Costello, Archbold as well as Ballymore's Kevin Kelleher and Liam Broderick and the Raheens duo of Mikey McGovern and Jack Hamill.
As the saying goes familiarity breeds contempt so things could get quite heated at times on the field as players reacquaint themselves with each other.
Two key battles are likely to play crucial on the end result with Minor stars John Lynch and Alex Beirne colliding at centre back and centre forward respectively while two county under 20 players will collide in the square with Wicklow's Conall O'Gallachobair looking to curb the immense threat of Shane O'Sullivan.
On the whole Naas CBS have bucketloads of experience with stacks of inter county standard players around their team and if they all click it’s hard to see beyond them.
Whatever the result though Kildare GAA is in the fortunate position of having a School from the county in the final four.
The game throws in at 2.00 in Manguard Centre of Excellence, Hawkfield and Kildare Now will be there to bring you all the action.
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