Friday 23 February 2018

Glory hunt may come at a cost for Lilywhites' leading clubs

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Kildare are confident that they will be able to complete their club football championship in time to allow their county champions to participate in the Leinster club competition.

They may, however, be forced to request a deferral of their first-round match against the Laois champions on October 24 if they reach an All-Ireland final.

Kildare chairman Padraig Ashe said any request would naturally be dependent on the team reaching the All-Ireland final.

As it stands, Kildare have played just two rounds of their championship and have another two rounds to play before quarter-finalists could be established.

If the Lilywhites were to beat Down on Sunday week, there would be no further club activity until after an All-Ireland final.

Then any potential champions would be out over five successive weekends in September and October to meet the October 24 deadline. Replays or the involvement of dual players could also affect that tight schedule.

The decision not to play a round of championship games after the victory over Meath has raised eyebrows at Leinster Council level. But after six successive weekends of action in the qualifiers and quarter-final, a decision was taken to give the Kildare senior players a break.

However, Ashe has pointed to the high frequency of adult championship games in the county this season.

"We have played two rounds of championship, three rounds of a cup competition and 15 rounds of league football. That's 20 games for an adult team. There aren't too many counties that could say that.

"We wouldn't pre-empt anything but obviously if we do reach an All-Ireland final, things become much tighter and we'd be in touch with Leinster Council at that point."

Meanwhile, Dermot Earley has yet to return to training two weeks after jarring his knee in the early stages of the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Earley has had minor surgery to clean out the troublesome knee and there is optimism in the Kildare camp that he can still play a part against Down.

Kildare were in Johnstown House Hotel in the northern part of the county over the weekend as their preparations continued.

Paul Cribbin, the minor star who is bound for AFL club Collingwood in October, has joined the squad since the quarter-final, becoming the third member of this year's minor team to do so.

Irish Independent

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