'A slap in the face' - Laois outraged at Nowlan Park decision as Dubs moved from Croker
Published 12/11/2015 | 02:30
Dublin will play a championship match outside Croke Park for the first time in 10 years after being fixed to play the winners of Laois and Wicklow in Kilkenny in a Leinster quarter-final.
Leinster Council last night voted to fix the match for Nowlan Park on Saturday, June 4, leaving it open to live coverage by Sky.
But the decision has angered Laois whose chairman Gerry Kavanagh has described it as "inexplicable". Kavanagh stressed Laois hadn't qualified for the quarter-final, but by not reserving the option for them to play a potential match at home against Dublin it was a "slap in the face".
"We're disappointed. We couldn't put into words how we feel about it," he said.
The capacity of Wicklow's home ground in Aughrim couldn't meet the demands of this match.
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Leinster Council has come in for criticism in the past for continuing to fix Dublin for Croke Park. Dublin haven't played a championship game away from headquarters since beating Longford, in Longford, in 2006. Leinster Council's decision will lead to a financial hit because Nowlan Park's capacity is 25,000.
But with 17,000 seats it is has 11,000 more than O'Moore Park in Portlaoise to soften the financial blow of vacating Croke Park and that is sure to have been a factor. Laois GAA is in the process of upgrading O'Moore Park to lift its capacity beyond the current 18,000.
A Dublin quarter-final in Croke Park against Laois or Wicklow on a Sunday afternoon, as part of a double-header, would generally attract between 40,000 and 45,000.
Dublin players and management have welcomed the prospect of "hitting the road".