It would be fallacious to say Kildare are Cork Lite but there are plenty of similarities between the teams.
Stingy in defence, remarkably physical, regularly playing within themselves and yet capable of displaying some beautiful football, they look to be cut from the same cloth.
Except, Cork are undoubtedly a rung or two up the ladder having beaten top teams, winning All-Ireland semi-finals and going all the way in 2010.
Kildare, on the other hand, are without a major scalp and have flattered to deceive over the last couple of seasons in Leinster.
Meath are in transition and yet they were able to expose Kildare’s brittleness last month.
Kildare have since come through the qualifiers to reach a fifth All-Ireland quarter-final under Kieran McGeeney. They thrive on momentum as indicated by their unbeaten record in the backdoor with the Armagh native at the helm.
Beating Division 3 teams is not asking much for such a proven qualifier team, though. Here, if there are any cobwebs in the Cork team, Kildare should benefit in the opening stages and yet they are known as much a second-half team if not more than Cork. That points to the superb fitness levels of each outfit. However, Cork can’t expect to continue to whittle down teams with their unrivalled physicality and win games.
What won them the All-Ireland two years ago — they forced Dublin to lose their discipline and Down to surrender their shape — won’t work this time. Counties. like Kildare have upped their game in the physical stakes.
However, Cork do seem to be kicking the ball more into the forward line although the big gains against Kerry and Clare were made from powerful runs through the middle although their half-backs aren’t scoring as freely as others like Kildare.
That they can afford to keep Patrick Kelly and Daniel Goulding on the bench indicates their strength in depth and there is little doubt which team has the better auxiliaries.
Kildare have been accused of being a team that doesn’t score enough goals and racks up too many wides. Against the meanest defence this year, it’s a reputation that doesn’t bode well although they have had a nice spread of scorers this summer.
Cork are bound to be rusty and Kildare’s defence will be buoyed by conceding just four points, one from play, against Sligo last weekend.
But there is simply too much class in the Cork ranks to let another quarter-final slip. It’s theirs to win in a gruelling affair by two or three points.
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