Ballymun trio rested by DCU

Frank Roche

BALLYMUN'S DCU contingent won't be playing Sigerson Cup football for their college this week - but Kickhams manager Paul Curran says it's by agreement.

The Dublin and Leinster champions face Dr Crokes of Killarney in Thurles this Saturday, hoping to reach their first ever AIB All-Ireland club football final. In normal circumstances the above trio would be playing for DCU in this Thursday's Sigerson quarter-final against UCD, but they will now be rested because of that game's proximity to their massive club showdown with the Kerry champions.

"Dean Rock, James McCarthy and Davy Byrne all played in the last (Sigerson) game against Queens, but they are with us now," Curran told the Evening Herald.

"We spoke to DCU before Christmas because we knew this was coming down the line. The agreement was that they play the first two games, and then they don't play the third game, which is the closest one to our semi-final. In fairness, it's worked out well so I think both sides are happy with that."

Curran also allayed injury fears over Byrne, who came off with a knock during a St Vincent de Paul Cup game against Parnells on Friday night, saying his team captain trained yesterday and is "fine" to face Crokes.

KILDARE hope to have sidelined trio Daryl Flynn, Eamonn Callaghan and Dermot Earley available for game time once the Allianz Football League resumes in three weeks' time. Midfielder Flynn and the play-anywhere Callaghan are coming back from groin injuries whereas Earley is on the mend following his latest bout of knee surgery. Meanwhile, key attacker Alan Smith is now back to full fitness, having suffered his own knee injury while on Leinster club duty with Sarsfields last November.

"We are still pushing to get Darryl, Leper (Callaghan) and Dermot back on the pitch," manager Kieran McGeeney explained after Saturday night's victory in Cork.

"Dermot put in a half last week against Cross, so did Hughie (Lynch). Leper is back running at the minute so hopefully that will push on over the next couple of weeks. Alan Smith is ready to come out of the traps at the minute; like everyone else he will have to work hard to get there."

WESTMEATH boss Pat Flanagan has backed Croke Park's decision to stage yesterday's NFL programme in direct competition with rugby's Six Nations showdown between Ireland and England.

There is some circumstantial evidence to suggest attendances were affected after the GAA pressed ahead with 2pm throw-ins instead of moving games to an earlier slot, albeit not totally convincing.

The televised Kerry/Dublin clash attracted 5,400 - not far below the estimated 6,000 that attended the last Killarney league encounter between the sides in 2010.

Meanwhile, in admittedly horrid conditions, less than 1,000 turned up for the Division Two midland derby between Longford and Westmeath, which would normally attract at least double that.

But winning boss Flanagan countered: "It's very difficult to find out exactly why there was such a poor crowd. There'll always be competition, but the true Gael will always come out."