CIAN O’ NEILL and his newly-formed management team have opted for a relatively conservative team for tomorrow’s O’Byrne Cup opener with Carlow in St. Conleth’s Park (2pm) with only one player set to make his senior inter-county bow.
Mark Barrett, hot on the heels of an impressive Aussie Rules trial in recent weeks, is one of only three members of the All Ireland winning under-20 team selected in a team packed with experience. Indeed the full back line is the most inexperienced on the pitch with Barrett lining alongside the other two Marks, Dempsey and Hyland.
Full back has been a problem position in recent years and Barrett’s performances in the summer certainly warrant a look, although he is still under-20 for one more year.
Jimmy Hyland is chosen at full forward and it’s this line that will generate most focus. With Daniel Flynn gone, the returning Ben McCormack and Hyland join Neil Flynn in a line full of potential.
Elsewhere there’s not much experimentation. A fourth Mark, Donnellan, is in goal, probably out of necessity as much as anything as Aaron O’Neill has been injured and missed the recent Aussie Rules trial.
The half-backs see Cian O’Donoghue back once more from injury and lining up alongside captain Eoin Doyle and the experienced Keith Cribbin.
Kevin Feely’s midfield partner is Fionn Dowling, who is one of the great conundrums of Kildare football. This is his ninth season on the panel but he only started a championship game in his first (2011). And yet here he is given another O’Byrne Cup run out. Dowling has good kick-passing ability and can take a high ball so maybe the new rules are playing a little into this decision. No disrespect to Dowling but I’m sure there’ll be a lot of disappointment that Aaron Masterson isn’t starting alongside Feely.
Another Sarsfields returnee, Conor Hartley joins David Slattery and Paul Cribbin on the half-forward line.
There’s no place for the big name comeback men Eoghan O’Flaherty, Podge Fogarty or indeed, Adam Tyrell.
- Mark Donnellan – Maynooth
- Mark Dempsey – Moorefield
- Mark Barrett – Ballymore Eustace
- Mark Hyland – Athy
- Cian O’Donoghue – Clane
- Eoin Doyle – Naas
- Keith Cribbin – Johnstownbridge
- Kevin Feely – Athy
- Fionn Dowling – Suncroft
- David Slattery – Confey
- Paul Cribbin – Johnstownbridge
- Conor Hartley – Sarsfields
- Ben McCormack – Sarsfields
- Jimmy Hyland – Ballyteague
- Neil Flynn – Maynooth