Friday 30 September 2016

Are Dublin set to play first Championship match outside Croke Park since 2006?

Martin Breheny ​

Published 11/11/2015 | 02:30

Paddy Andrews celebrates All Ireland glory in Croke Park - the Dubs haven't played a Championship match outside of GAA HQ since 2006
Paddy Andrews celebrates All Ireland glory in Croke Park - the Dubs haven't played a Championship match outside of GAA HQ since 2006

Laois insist they will strenuously object to any proposal to cut them out of a home tie with Dublin in next year's Leinster football championship if they beat Wicklow in the first round.

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Tonight's Leinster Council meeting will decide on whether to fix a Dublin game outside of Croke Park for the first time since 2006.

If it goes ahead, Nowlan Park has been mentioned as the most likely venue for a Dublin v Laois/Wicklow quarter-final, on the basis that it has 17,000 seats from a 25,000 capacity.

O'Moore Park in Portlaoise has around 6,200 seats and, while its overall capacity was cut to around 18,000, it's hoped that development work, being undertaken at a cost of €1.2 million, will increase it to 25,000 by early next year.

"We'd be hoping for support to have Portlaoise as the venue for the Dublin game if we beat Wicklow. We were told in 2014 that in the event of Laois drawing with Dublin in the Leinster quarter-final, the replay would be in Portlaoise.

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"Why should there be any difference if a decision is taken to take Dublin out of Croke Park now?" said Laois county secretary Niall Handy (above).

He also said that if Nowlan Park was chosen for a Dublin game next year, it would set a trend, since other grounds don't have as much seating capacity.

"Does that mean that if Offaly drew Dublin in the future, the game couldn't be in Tullamore, where O'Connor Park is a fine ground," he said.

It's by no means certain that Dublin will be taken out of Croke Park as it would result in a heavy financial hit for the Leinster Council.

However, there has been growing support for the move, on the basis that it might make teams more competitive against Dublin after three seasons when they won all their Leinster games by wide margins.

The draws for the 2016 O'Byrne Cup will also be made tonight.

Irish Independent

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