DERMOT EARLEY took another significant step towards the summer after coming through a full 60 minutes for the Kildare juniors last night.
Earley, who has been tormented by injury for the past two years, lined out at midfield for last year's All-Ireland JFC finalists in their 1-15 to 1-9 victory over Louth in Newbridge.
The Sarsfields man hit two points from open play and contributed directly to a number of other scores, including Cathal McNally's first-minute goal, a significant development as he bids to reinstate himself in Kieran McGeeney's summer plans.
Already this year, Earley has made brief cameos against Derry and Galway in the league after spending almost all of last year and the early part of this year undergoing rehabilitation from reconstructive knee surgery.
He scored a point against Derry after coming on to a rapturous reception and then, with Kildare struggling to halt a momentous Galway comeback in Salthill, he was introduced at full-forward and had a hand in two late scores, including Johnny Doyle's penalty which secured a draw and promotion to Division 1.
Doyle, meanwhile, has urged Kildare to remember the past or be doomed to repeat it. The Lilywhites take on Offaly, who so far this year have suffered relegation and endured a change of management, in their Leinster opener on June 17.
But after being caught in provincial warfare by Wicklow in 2008 and Louth two years later, the inspirational Allenwood man is adamant Kildare aren't looking beyond Offaly.
"We have learned to our detriment in the past that if you start looking ahead of yourself you are in trouble," he insisted. "The most important game for us is Offaly.
"Football is strange. You ask people to call it and the majority of people would say, 'Kildare will win that'. But you have to win it on the day.
"We'll be happy if at the final whistle we have one point to spare - that's all it has to be."