By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Niall Carew believes Kildare’s dreadful record against Galway is a focus more of supporters and media than it would ever be for the players, maintaining that it will have no bearing on proceedings when they cross swords in Newbridge tomorrow.
Although they have only met four times in Championship football, and the score stands at 2-2, Galway have held the whip hand over Kildare in modern times.
The 1998 All-Ireland final was the start of it and no matter how the two have been getting on in the wider scheme of things in the meantime, Galway have always prevailed, most recently pulling clear at the end to win by six points in the last round of the National League at St Conleth’s Park in March.
Carew, who was Kildare selector for five seasons from 2008 to 2012 before stints as manager of Waterford and Sligo, is adamant that the infusion of belief derived from the qualifier victory over Mayo will serve the Lilies well.
“Generally players only worry about the next game and what went on before, especially when they weren’t involved, won’t take much out of them confidence-wise,” says Carew.
“Kildare’s big thing is they will draw from the Mayo game. If they can beat Mayo in Newbridge, they will believe they can beat Galway in Newbridge.
“I think it’s a 50-50 game for them now because of the confidence they will have form the Mayo game.
“Paul Conroy is a huge loss to Galway at midfield. He was their go-to player to win aerial battles and get a couple of scores. I think that makes it a very even game now and I think Kildare have a great chance of getting a result — that might be a draw or a win. But I think it’s going to be that tight.”
Although Galway are coming into this tie on the back of a brilliant win over Kerry, while Kildare were edged out by Monaghan last weekend, Carew argues Cian O’Neill’s men have plenty of positives to draw from since their shock Leinster championship defeat by Carlow.
Subsequent triumphs over Derry, Longford, and Mayo saw them build up a head of steam and though the momentum was halted by Monaghan, the experience of playing against a packed defence means they will have enjoyed the ideal preparation for a Galway outfit playing a similar style this year under Kevin Walsh.
“Galway have changed their system but the other side of that is they leave the opposition in the game.
“There will be chances, they may be difficult, but if you can take them, you will put them on the back foot.
“Kildare will learn a hell of a lot from the Monaghan game and set them up well for Galway. If they can learn a few things from that, how to breach through the defences and just be a little bit more clinical with the chances that present themselves, this is a game they can get a positive result from.”