Skipper Doyle slots into Kildare attack

Speculation linking John Doyle with a possible move to midfield has proved wide of the mark following the announcement of the Kildare team to play Wicklow on Sunday.

Speculation linking John Doyle with a possible move to midfield has proved wide of the mark following the announcement of the Kildare team to play Wicklow on Sunday.

Doyle, a 2010 All-Star and captain of Kildare for the third successive year, will start at right corner forward, with Daryl Flynn and Hugh Lynch paired together in midfield.

But Doyle could yet see action in centre-field after playing there during a challenge match against Armagh last week and also in a recent internal practice game.

Goalkeeper Shane Connolly, who impressed during the Allianz Football League campaign, will make his Championship debut for the Lilywhites this weekend.

For the provincial clash in Portlaoise (throw-in 2pm), Padraig O'Neill will be joined by Carbury brothers, Morgan and Eoghan O'Flaherty, in the half-forward line.

Eamonn Callaghan, who has battled back from a foot injury, and Mikey Conway, who is returning from a long-term cruciate knee ligament injury, are still on the road to recovery.

The pair played in last weekend's internal practice game, but manager Kieran McGeeney is likely to ease them back into Championship action.

Also missing are Dermot Earley, Peter Kelly and Ken Donnelly, who are all currently sidelined by cruciate ligament problems.

McGeeney's men had a disappointing first day out in last year's Leinster Championship - losing 1-22 to 1-16 to Louth - but then embarked on a memorable six-match run right through to the semi-final stage of the All-Ireland Championship.

"It's a long road back to where we got to last year. We'll see if we have learned from 2010 in the first outing against Wicklow," admitted Doyle.

"The Championship is the start of a new year and that brings new hope. Like every other team in the country, you always think maybe this will be the year that success comes your way.

"It's a difficult match against Wicklow. We've played them twice in the last three or four years. They've beaten us once and probably should have beaten us the second time.

"We were lucky enough to get over them in the qualifiers in 2009. It is going to be a very difficult game and with a bit of local rivalry it spices things up. We're looking forward to it and hopefully things go our way."

KILDARE (SFC v Wicklow): Shane Connolly; Andriú MacLochlainn, Michael Foley, Hugh McGrillen; Gary White, Brian Flanagan, Emmet Bolton; Daryl Flynn, Hugh Lynch; Morgan O'Flaherty, Eoghan O'Flaherty, Padraig O'Neill; John Doyle (capt), Ronan Sweeney, James Kavanagh.

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