Kildare cash in on Croker switch

Kildare will receive a cash inducement to play two of their four Allianz Football League games at neutral Croke Park instead of Newbridge.

As a result, the third installment of Dublin’s ‘Spring Series’ of games will definitely go ahead in 2013, with the neighbouring Leinster counties doubling up for a glamour opening to the competition on Saturday, February 2.

Kildare had been fighting a separate battle for several months to hold onto home advantage in Newbridge for ties against Donegal, Kerry, Dublin and Tyrone despite the reduction of the venue’s capacity to 6,200 by health and safety officials.

However, after lengthy negotiations with Croke Park officials, it’s believed a deal has been reached to play against All-Ireland champions Donegal, on February 2, and Dublin, on Sunday March 10, at Croke Park.

The first game will form the undercard to Dublin’s floodlit clash with Cork while the second will be a stand alone fixture. The other two home games, against Kerry on March 3 and Tyrone on March 24, look set to go ahead in Newbridge as planned.

It was reported locally yesterday that a financial incentive of up to €70,000 will be paid to Kildare for conceding home advantage though Kildare chairman John McMahon would not confirm the figure.

The breakthrough will allow Dublin to press on and confirm arrangements for their ‘Spring Series’ of games in time to sell tickets on the Christmas market. The series required Kildare’s involvement to be financially viable. Interestingly, Dublin will now play five of their seven league games at Croke Park.

“We’re almost complete with it now, it’s looking much more like the possibility of Croke Park now,” said Kildare chief McMahon.

“It has been a process of discussions with Croke Park for some time but I’d expect an outcome very shortly now.”

As for the financial boost, McMahon admitted they did require some ‘incentive’ to concede home advantage for 50% of their games. It’s understood that the money will be ploughed back into upgrading St Conleth’s Park and restoring its capacity to around 9,000.

McMahon said: “We had to look at what’s best for Kildare, best for supporters and what’s going to be in the interests of St Conleth’s Park.”

* Stradbally’s Gerry Kavanagh was appointed unopposed as the new Laois GAA Chairman at the annual convention in Portlaoise last night.


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