Friday night gets the red light as Spring Series survives
Another opportunity to test the Friday night market for Gaelic games has been spurned with confirmation that the Dublin v Kildare Allianz Football League match will be played at Croke Park on a Sunday.
The GAA's games administration department confirmed yesterday that the fixture would be one of five Dublin will play at Headquarters, breathing new life into a third 'Spring Series'.
The series looked like it was in trouble because of an absence of suitable fixtures, but Kildare's decision to play two of their matches at Croke Park, with the carrot of an estimated €60,000 dangled in front of them, has made it a much more viable prospect.
Dublin chairman Andy Kettle had expressed the hope that the GAA might seek to "road test" Friday night games by playing their match against Kildare on March 8, but it will go ahead on March 10 as planned.
The Leinster Council had explored a Friday night championship match when drawing up their fixture list but couldn't reach agreement on a suitable fixture.
Dublin and Mayo agreed to play a 2011 league match on a Friday night, but the GAA vetoed the plan because of concerns about having to compensate players for missing work.
The Dubs effectively have five 'home' games now, and all will be played in Croke Park, due in part to the fact that the capacity of Parnell Park is now restricted to 7,300.
The opening night of the league should attract a big crowd to Headquarters, with All-Ireland champions Donegal taking on Kildare in the first part of a double-header that also features Dublin v Mayo.
The only other Croke Park double-bill will see Dublin play Limerick in hurling and Tyrone in football on Saturday, March 16.
Meanwhile, Queen's are expected to confirm their departure from the McKenna Cup today as the dispute over the availability of players rages on.
Third-level teams are supposed to have first call on players for the competition, but some players are coming under pressure to show allegiance to their county first.
Paddy Cunningham has been recalled to the Antrim squad for their McKenna campaign. Cunningham, their top scorer in recent years, had left the panel after last season's Ulster championship exit after a difference of opinion with the previous management.
league fixtures AT Croke Park
February 2 – Div 1 FL: Donegal v Kildare, 5.15; Dublin v Cork 7.0
March 2 – Div 1 FL: Dublin v Mayo 7.0
March 10 – Div 1 FL: Kildare v Dublin, 2.0.
March 16 – Div 1 HL: Dublin v Limerick 5.15. Div 1 FL: Dublin v Tyrone 7.0.
March 23 – Div 1 FL: Dublin v Down 7.0.