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GAA: Curran's return to revive Dublin.

TRAVEL agent Paul Curran is aiming to prevent Dublin having to book a spring holiday this Sunday.

The All-star defender, who has missed much of the National League campaign because of his work commitments, returns to Tom Carr's side for the Croke Park quarter-final clash with arch rivals Kildare.

With Jim Gavin poised to make his comeback and Jason Sherlock a possible starter, Dublin will field their most experienced side of the season for the meeting with last year's All-Ireland finalists.

Dublin must win or else they will be faced with two months of inactivity on the sideline ahead of the championship opener against Louth on June 6.

Carr, still struggling to find a settled side, is desperate to avoid such a lengthy idle period.

And Curran's availability is a welcome boost as the Sky Blues look to recover from a rocky period which has yielded a draw and two defeats in their three games since the winter break.

The Thomas Davis defender, one of the outstanding players in the country over the past decade, has been little more than a peripheral figure for the Dubs over the past 12 months.

Curran, who works for Killester Travel, has been heavily involved in setting up golf packages for holiday makers.

And Carr's inexperienced team have missed the reassuring presence of a man who has played in three All-Ireland finals.

"The quality of ball going into the forwards was poor against Cork," says Carr, "Paul will make a big difference there."

Curran could not have timed his come back better as wing back Paul Croft is sidelined through suspension.

Croft, one of Dublin's success stories over the past 12 months, was red carded for kicking out at a Cork player in injury time in last week's defeat.

And the return of another experienced campaigner, Jim Gavin, will also be a comfort as his ball winning ability and leadership qualities have been sorely missed from a struggling Dublin attack.

Fringe players Ray Cosgrove, Mick O'Keefe, Senan Connell, Niall O'Donoghue, Peter Ward and Brian Irwin have been given a chance to play their way into the team - but only O'Donoghue has come close.

Gavin's return should lift the pressure off Dessie Farrell - while Sherlock will look to build on an impressive cameo against Cork.

Further good news for Dublin, who look to avenge last year's Leinster championship reversal at the same venue, is that first-choice Ian Robertson has recovered from an injury scare.

Robertson went over on an ankle in training, but Carr has confirmed that the Ballymun man is fit to play.

Dublin will pick their team tomorrow night.

Kildare look certain to be without Allstars Glen Ryan and Brian Lacey as they return to Croke Park for the first time since the All-Ireland final loss to Galway nearly seven months ago.

Ryan, their inspirational skipper, is still struggling with the thigh injury that has kept him out since Christmas. His participation of late has been restricted to light training.

Lacey, one of the stars of last year's victory over Dublin, has an ankle problem. Midfielder Willie McCreery is also out.

Sunday's Croke Park double header - Cork play Derry in the second game - is expected to be the biggest box-office attraction of the league so far. A crowd of 40,000 is expected.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Curtis, Roy
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 7, 1999
Words:550
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