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Croker switch costly for Kildare fans

KILDARE'S involvement in the show-stopping Croke Park double-header that will kick off this year's Allianz Football League means some dedicated local fans will have to shell out extra to gain admission.

It was confirmed yesterday that the NFL will begin with a big floodlit double-header involving a mouth-watering All-Ireland final rematch between Dublin and Kerry and the Division 2 curtain-raiser involving Kildare and Tyrone.

But the Lilywhites' involvement in the Saturday night opener on February 4 means that some members of local supporters' association Club Kildare will have to shell out extra for admission because it is no longer technically a home game for the county.

The benefits of basic senior membership of Club Kildare, which costs between €200 to €300, includes free admission to all Kildare inter-county games played in the county.

The Tyrone clash was due to be a home tie in Newbridge. But now that Kildare have agreed to play it at Croker, many members of Club Kildare are no longer covered for it.

Anyone with an official Kildare GAA season ticket is still covered for admission, but the switch of venue means paid-up members of what is effectively the county's supporters' club are not covered.

As soon as the provisional fixtures came out and the Tyrone game was listed as a Saturday match, it was clear it was going to be played outside the county because Newbridge does not have suitable floodlights.

Kildare secretary Kathleen O'Neill confirmed yesterday that some Club Kildare members are now not covered for the game.

"Some Club Kildare members will have to pay for tickets because they are only covered for matches that take place in Kildare and this, no longer, is technically a home game for us," she explained.

The double-header looks set to attract a bumper crowd.

Counties get to retain 20pc of their home gates during the national leagues, and Croke Park are likely to have made an agreement with the four teams involved to give all of them some percentage of the gate.

Irish Independent