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5 talking points ahead of Kerry and Kildare's All-Ireland football quarter-final

The counties meet for a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals at Croke Park.

1. Are Kerry vulnerable?

We suggested last week that Kildare would view Cork as vulnerable opponents following Munster final replay defeat for the Rebels.

The Lilywhites have built up a nice head of steam through the qualifiers and can have a real cut off the Kingdom on Sunday.

Cork’s psychological state of mind was obviously a factor at Semple Stadium last Saturday but Kildare still inflicted an eight-point defeat on a team that Kerry beat by five.

Jason Ryan Jason Ryan has turned Kildare's season around. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Following that line of form, the suggestion is that there will be little to separate Sunday’s opponents at GAA HQ.

Kerry took their time in finding their feet against Galway in last year’s quarter-final but will need to hit the ground running against a Kildare side with growing momentum.

2. Gooch on the bench again

Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper has to content himself with a place on the Kerry substitute’s list once again.

He made a big impact with some quick thinking after coming on against Cork and while boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice has opted for one change, it’s Stephen O’Brien who’s come in to replace Johnny Buckley.

Cooper is sure to see game time at some point and perhaps Fitzmaurice has a master plan in mind to use the Dr. Crokes genius more in the All-Ireland series and as the stakes get higher.

Colm Cooper in action Colm Cooper made a big impact off the bench against Cork. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Once again, Fitzmaurice has gone with a hard-working and powerful half-forward line to compliment midfielders Anthony Maher and David Moran.

But when the pace slows and Kerry need some creativity to unlock Kildare, Cooper is the man to come in and get the job done.

3. Kerry’s quarter-final record…

…is quite remarkable. In their previous 14 All-Ireland senior football quarter-finals, the Kingdom have suffered just two defeats.

In 2010, they lost a quarter-final for the first time since the inception of the qualifiers, losing to Down.

Two years later, eventual winners Donegal dumped Kerry out of the championship but Kerry have won their two quarter-finals since then, against Cavan and Galway.

Source: MagnaCartaClauses39+40/YouTube

This is rarely a juncture of the competition where Kerry slip up but they’ve never met Kildare before in a last eight tie, which brings a new dimension and a touch of novelty to the fixture.

Kerry have claimed some big scalps in the quarter-finals through the years, including Dublin (three times), Mayo, Armagh and Monaghan.

4. And Kildare’s last eight record…

Kildare first progressed to the All-Ireland quarter-finals in 2008 and it sparked a run of five last-eight ties in as many years.

Kildare have won just one of those five quarter-finals, beating Meath in 2010 before losing the All-Ireland semi-final to Down when Benny Coulter scored a controversial goal for the winners (from 1 minute 23 seconds):

Source: Bryansford Gael/YouTube

Kildare lost against Cork in 2008 and 2012, and suffered defeats against Tyrone (2009) and Donegal in 2011, after extra-time.

Despite the fact that the Lilywhites will play in Division 3 of the Allianz League next year following successive relegations, boss Jason Ryan has still managed to steer the county into the last eight for the first time since 2012.

And that’s no mean feat when you take into account that they were decimated by Dublin in the Leinster semi-final.

5. Recent history

Not a huge amount to speak of. The last championship meeting between Kerry and Kildare was back in 2002, when the Kingdom won a round 4 qualifier.

But four years earlier, Kildare scored a landmark victory against Kerry when Mick O’Dwyer masterminded an All-Ireland semi-final success against his native county.

Kildare are coming into Sunday’s tie on the back of three successive victories against Offaly, Longford and Cork but Kerry are battle-hardened too.

Source: CillDaraTimes/YouTube

They survived a potentially tricky Munster semi-final against Tipperary with relative ease and two tough games with Cork will serve to ensure that Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s charges are in no danger of being ‘undercooked’ ahead of their summer bow at Croke Park.

A feature of Kerry’s displays in championship games under Fitzmaurice has been their ability to get the job done no matter what the circumstances and they’re tipped to do likewise this weekend.

Here’s the Kildare team aiming to shock Kerry at Croke Park on Sunday

It’s a bumper GAA weekend and here’s all your TV and Radio coverage

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