Donegal set sights on home comforts for Tyrone clash
Published 01/02/2013 | 05:00
Donegal are to make a decision on upgrading their county ground in Ballybofey that will determine if the All-Ireland champions can run out in front of a home crowd for their first championship match of 2013, against Tyrone.
Delegates to next Monday night's county board meeting will be asked to approve a series of improvements at MacCumhaill Park that will cost €100,000 and increase the capacity to close to 18,000.
The improvements are in accordance with conditions laid down by the Slattery Report, which was commissioned by the GAA in 2011 to determine capacity at all inter-county venues in accordance with stricter health and safety guidelines.
New Donegal chairman Sean Dunnion believes that once the work is approved and carried out, there will be a "moral obligation" to let the champions begin the defence of their Ulster and All-Ireland titles on home soil.
The venue for the eagerly waited May 26 Ulster Championship first-round fixture has already been a contentious issue.
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness is adamant that, as champions, they have a right to play their first game at home after the draw determined that, but his counterpart Mickey Harte believes the game should be moved, to accommodate the greater interest in the fixture.
Donegal and Tyrone have met in the semi-finals of the Ulster Championship for the last two years, with the 2012 meeting attracting a crowd of 17,330 on a Saturday evening.
As it stands, MacCumhaill Park has a capacity of just under 12,000, but the addition of crush barriers, more turnstiles and security fencing – work which would take between three and four weeks to complete – would bring it closer to 18,000.
The Ulster Council are to make a final decision on the venue at their March meeting.