Kildare v Laois, Leinster MFC quarter-final
3pm Saturday, May 20, St Conleth’s Park
After the relative shadow boxing session that was the preliminary round of the Leinster Championship, the Kildare minors know that a defeat will end their summer and their bid to ensure the provincial trophy sits in the Hawkfield cabinets for another year.
Saturday's game with Laois should be a real test of Kildare's nerve however. Having looked shaky for the first 40 minutes or so against Carlow in their opening fixture, Gay Campbell's young side eventually came good to put in a relatively polished performance to ease to a 2-13 to 0-9 win in the Sunny Southeast.
While Kildare were busy accounting for the challenge of Carlow in Netwatch Cullen Park towards the end April in the opening round of the championship, Laois fell at the first hurdle when they lost to Louth by a couple of points in their opening fixture. They picked themselves up impressively after that however, knocking a much-vaunted Meath out of the championship, and Kildare manager Gay Campbell notes that they will have plenty of confidence heading into this tie.
"They have a lot of under 17s, probably seven or eight of them that will start," Campbell told the Kildare Post.
"We have three or four under 17s that will start for us. Their results in the challenges have been good; they gave Kerry a good game before falling away late, they beat Galway who were highly rated. Obviously they lost to Louth, but they beat Meath the last day who were fancied to win the who thing out so that was a good result to put them back in a good place," he said.
The intensity in training has been upped in recent training sessions due to the nature of Saturday's game, with the do or die clash presenting a big moment in Kildare's season. Another win would see the Lilywhites into the Leinster semi-final, and just one step away from a guaranteed trip to Croke Park for a group of players, many of whom have never togged out at headquarters before.
"It’s do or die this time, there’s no safety net of a backdoor so it’s real championship. The last couple of weeks you can see it feeding into the players, this is it like. You win this and you have a six-week break to the semi-finals with the leaving cert, and after that all avenues are opened up then and you’re within touching distance of Croke Park if we win Saturday," continued Campbell.
There were some slight injury concerns for Campbell to deal with before Saturday's game, and the manager assessed a couple of players during late fitness tests before he naming his team last night.
Captain David Kelly, who left the field with injury during the victory over Carlow, is fully fit ahead of the meeting with the O'Moore youngsters, despite slightly aggravating a leg injury while playing for his club Carbury.
"There’s a couple of guys we have a fitness test on tomorrow night, and there will probably be a couple of changes; there’s a couple of guys back and we’ll have to see how that fairs out," said Campbell.
The fact that Kildare have been training in St Conleth's Park in recent weeks will also be a boost to the players, and those familiar surroundings are an advantage heading into Saturday insists Campbell.
"We’ve been training in Conleth’s for the last couple of weeks and obviously the young lads would be used to playing there with their clubs anyways, so that would be an advantage," he said.
KildareNow will be reporting live from St Conleth's Park tomorrow and will bring you a detailed match report straight after the game.
If you have a story or want to send photos or videos to us please contact the KildareNow editorial team. via our Facebook, via our email at [email protected] or on 045 409350 during office hours.