Hill 16 capacity to be reduced by a third
The capacity of Hill 16 for next week's Leinster football semi-final between Dublin and Kildare is to be reduced by over 4,000 because of a safety issue, it has emerged.
Leinster Council have been informed that the capacity for the terrace will be reduced to just over 8,000 for the double header on Sunday week.
An issue with ticket scanners -- which falls under health and safety regulations -- has prompted Croke Park officials to reduce the capacity by up to one third and that has led to concern among some Dublin officials that their demands will not be met.
Leinster Council chief executive Michael Delaney is keeping his fingers crossed that the move will not impact on the Dublin support which traditionally congregates on the Hill, while stadium director Peter McKenna said there would be no "material impact" on the crowd.
"If we use the Meath game in Croke Park last year as a benchmark, there were only 6,000 tickets sold for that so we should be okay," said Delaney.
But with significant interest in the game, there is always the prospect that demand will increase and Hill tickets could then become a much more scarce commodity. Croke Park is expecting its biggest crowd of the season for the fixture which attracted close to a capacity when the sides met in the 2009 Leinster final. Philip McMahon will not be involved for Dublin, however, after he was diagnosed with a medial ligament injury in the wake of the Laois match.
McMahon has been ruled out for up to six weeks and, with Paul Griffin and Ross O'Carroll also unavailable, it limits Pat Gilroy's defensive options. Paul Brogan and Paul Conlon are the leading candidates to replace McMahon.
Elsewhere, Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick said he has no issue about the appointment of the referee for their first-round qualifier against Louth at Kingspan Breffni Park next week.
Fitzpatrick said his trust was in Croke Park to make the right decision on the appointment after last year's controversial finish to the Leinster final.
Fitzpatrick insisted it wasn't going to develop into a grudge match over last year but admitted there were significant "bragging rights" on offer.