KILDARE GAA chiefs are determined that the capacity at St Conleth's Park will be back up around the 9,000 mark before the conclusion of their club championships next autumn.
The sight of large pockets of empty terrace behind either goal - for yesterday's supposedly full-house NFL encounter between Kildare and Kerry - prompted some jaundiced local commentary about the impact of health and safety guidelines on the outdated home of Kildare GAA.
The official attendance at Newbridge yesterday was given as 5,994, with capacity strictly set beforehand at 6,181.
This reduced capacity has already compelled Kildare to take two of their four 'home' league matches in Division One to Croke Park - their opening night victory over Donegal and now next Sunday's mouthwatering clash with Dublin (2.0).
But, contacted today by the Evening Herald, Kildare chairman John McMahon was at pains not to criticise the health and safety criteria used in setting the capacity bar at this level.
He confirmed that the reason was not a space issue, but rather the meterage and configuration of the terrace barriers.
"We know what we have to do," said McMahon, adding that there was no point "whingeing" about an issue they have to address.
His aim is to have all the necessary works completed so that it's "ready before we get to the end of our championships."
The Kildare chief continued: "The health and safety report has been issued, the figure is set at 6,181.
"We have a proposed package of works gone to tender for upgrading terraces, etc, in St Conleth's Park. When those works are completed, we would hope to be able to increase our capacity."
He confirmed they were looking at a "substantial" increase, towards a ball park figure of 9,000.
Meanwhile, looking ahead to next Sunday's trip to Croker - for a collision of two rivals each boasting a 100 per cent record - Kildare boss Kieran McGeeney warned: "It will be hard to beat them, they are flying at the minute.
"Bernard (Brogan) seems to be unstoppable and, at Croke Park as well, they will enjoy that too.
"Both teams have under-21 games during the week (Dublin v Longford; Meath v Kildare), both of us are using quite a lot of U21 players, so it will be interesting to see what way we can line out even."
DUBLIN minors footballers scored two late goals to defeat Kildare, 3-8 to 0-13, in Saturday's Leinster MFL final at Parnell's club.
The game looked to be edging the way of the Lilywhites over the concluding ten minutes and Wayne Fitzpatrick's 58th minute point nosed the visitors in front, 0-12 to 1-8.
However, Colm Basquel's goal, when a long ball broke off substitute full-forward Seán Ryan for the Ballyboden St Enda's man to half-volley first time to the net, was followed 90 seconds later by Ryan rescuing a ball going out of play for fellow sub, wing-forward Killian Sheanon, to fire home.