Sunday 22 October 2017

Kelly wary of clubs opening up grounds

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Former GAA president Sean Kelly believes the Association should not go any further than opening up a number of county grounds for special purposes.

Kelly says it is a sign of the times that there is little or no opposition to opening a number of GAA stadia across the country to clear the way for a possible IRFU bid for the 2023 or 2027 Rugby World Cup.

Central Council have already approved the motion, which goes before Congress tomorrow, while Cork gave it backing last week.

Kelly, the administrative force behind the original opening up of Croke Park in 2005, feels there is "no need" for any further movement on GAA grounds beyond this.

Some GAA clubs feeling the pinch financially may see the further relaxation of GAA rules as a chance to allow other sports to use their facilities as a way of tackling their debts.

develop

Kelly takes a different view, however. "I think it's okay to name the grounds you are going to open and develop, but you are going to have to stop at county grounds," he said.

"You couldn't do it for club grounds unless there was special permission for a once-off. The whole fear that everyone had, that if you opened Croke Park you'd open all grounds, could possibly materialise.

"There is a danger that if you did open one club ground or a couple of them, pressure might come to share the grounds on a permanent basis. I don't think that would benefit anybody."

Kelly acknowledges how much attitudes in the GAA have changed.

"I think people have seen the benefit of opening Croke Park and now the whole public attitude has changed. You would be on the wrong side to be against it, whereas years ago you were on the wrong side if you were for it."

The current MEP for Munster has also floated the idea of a festival for indigenous sports in Europe in 2014.

Irish Independent

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