UCD give Kelly green light to make Kildare return
UCD have bucked the trend by giving Kildare first call on Peter Kelly to allow him make his long-awaited inter-county comeback in Navan tomorrow.
Third-level colleges now have a first-choice option on their star players for the early-season provincial competitions. That has attracted opposition from some county managers and created a tug-of-war over players in some quarters.
Ulster Council have been forced to relax the rule for this year's McKenna Cup, but it still applies strictly in Leinster, Connacht and Munster. Yet the Belfield college have given Kelly, an All Star in 2010, the green light to play for the Lilywhites in the O'Byrne Cup.
That means he will return to the county jersey against DIT tomorrow for the first time since suffering a ruptured cruciate while lining out for his university over a year ago.
Kelly enjoyed a whirlwind season in 2010. Not only did he make his league and championship debuts that year but, after coming into the team for their first-round qualifier against Antrim, he then nailed down a starting spot at corner-back and ended the season with an All Star.
A couple of months later he was sidelined by the serious knee injury and his last appearance for Kildare, who have been hit with a raft of other cruciate injuries since, was in the 2010 All-Ireland semi-final against Down.
"I'm looking forward to it now; it's been a long time coming," Kelly said yesterday.
"Kildare wanted me to play from the start of the year because I've been out for so long. UCD are fine with it, and I'll be playing with them in the Sigerson.
"I'm not being thrown in at the deep end. I played a little bit with the club (Twomilehouse) and I've been training away. I did all the pre-season so I'm grand now."
He added of his rollercoaster 2010 season: "It's a lifetime ago at this stage. I was on such a high, looking forward to 2011 and I came away without almost any football at all so I can't wait to get back into action. I just need to get as much game time as possible to get the sharpness back."
Elsewhere, ex-Tipperary All-Ireland-winning manager Liam Sheedy is back in management after being appointed to take charge of the Munster hurling team for this year's M Donnelly Inter-provincial series.
Munster's high-profile management team will also include Sheedy's former coach with Tipperary Eamon O'Shea, as well as Clare's James O'Connor and Waterford's Stephen Frampton.
Cork selector Ger O'Sullivan is taking charge of the Munster footballers and will have Limerick boss Maurice Horan and John Kennedy of Kerry in his backroom.
The inter-pros have been reinstated this year with a new calendar and culminate with finals at the Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup weekends. Munster's hurlers take on Leinster in Nowlan Park in the semi-finals on February 19, the same day their footballers take on Leinster in Parnell Park.