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Kilkenny poised to turn down AFL deal

CIARAN KILKENNY could be ready to turn down a move to the AFL in order to commit to the Dublin cause.

The Leaving Certificate student and star of this year's All Ireland winning U-21 team has attracted plenty of interest from Down Under, but with Pat Gilroy likely to add him to his squad when he completes his exams he looks set to turn his back on the oval ball game for the time being at least.

Kilkenny was a leading light in both Dublin's minor hurling and football teams that reached All Ireland finals last season and is one of the hottest properties in Gaelic football. He has previously indicated that he would like to wait until after his Leaving Cert before making up his mind on his future but reports last night suggest that his immediate future would be with the boys in blue.

Carlton were believed to be leading the race for his signature and although their advances may be spurned this time around, they are unlikely to be put off for long, especially if he makes an impact at senior level.

Elsewhere, Benny Coulter will find out on Friday if he has a chance of playing for Down this summer.

The Mourne attacker broke his ankle in a club game three weeks ago -- which means he will miss an Ulster championship match for the first time in 12 years when Down play Fermanagh on Sunday week.

Coulter was still on crutches yesterday as he helped launch the All-Star School of Football in Cookstown. He's due to get the cast removed on Friday, when the ankle will be scanned to determine the extent of the progress.

"Hopefully it's coming on and knitting well," said Coulter. "Any time I do put a bit of weight on it, it's sore, but it was a clean break so it's not too bad."

Coulter, instrumental to Down for so long, has never missed an Ulster championship match since making his debut in 2000. He admits he is finding the countdown to this year's opener on June 3 hard to handle.

"It's a bit weird, I have nothing to focus on," he said. "I'm not really up for the championship at the minute, maybe because I'm not playing. I've been to all the Down training but it's not the same when you know you're not going to be involved in the first game."

Irish Independent