Sport Gaelic Football

Friday 19 September 2014

GAA rejects calls from Mayo 
to switch replay to Croke Park

Published 25/08/2014 | 02:30

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A supporter celebrates after Mayo had scored a goal from the penalty spot. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Kerry v Mayo, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
A supporter celebrates after Mayo had scored a goal from the penalty spot. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Kerry v Mayo, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Mayo manager James Horan
Mayo manager James Horan
Mayo supporters Ross and Ruth McGrath
Mayo supporters Ross and Ruth McGrath

A POTENTIAL Mayo appeal against the scheduling of their All-Ireland semi-final replay against Kerry on Saturday evening in Limerick has fallen on deaf ears.

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Mayo manager James Horan confirmed that his county board had sought a deferral of the fixture for seven days to allow the game to be played in Croke Park instead.

But the GAA has shut the door on any movement on date or venue.

The Gaelic Grounds in Limerick have been chosen because Croke Park is hosting an American Football colleges match between University of Florida and Penn State in a seasonal opener on Saturday afternoon, a match that could draw in excess of 50,000.

But Horan has described the decision to stage an All-Ireland semi final outside Croke Park for the first time since Cork and Dublin replayed in Pairc Ui Chaoimh in 1983 as "bizarre."

"It doesn't make any sense to me, 5pm in Limerick. I think it's bizarre. But we will play wherever. Once we are on a football field, we are on a football field. But it doesn't make any sense."

However, a GAA spokesman has already ruled out putting the match back by seven days and said they were happy to take the All-Ireland series 'on the road' after so much Croke Park focus.

"We have a lot of good stadia around the country that are suitable for games like this and we see this as an opportunity to exploit that," said Alan Milton, the GAA's head of media relations.

The Gaelic Grounds has accommodation for around 45,000 spectators. The GAA estimate that if the replay went ahead in Croke Park on a Saturday evening it would draw less than 40,000.

The GAA must also take into consideration the potential for the second All-Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Donegal next Sunday could also go to a replay and that is fixed for Saturday, September 6.

Kerry would have more familiarity with the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick because it is a Munster venue.

They last played there in 2012 when they beat Clare in an All-Ireland fourth round qualifier when 13 of the 21 involved against Mayo yesterday played.

Mayo have little or no experience of playing in the Gaelic Grounds but Horan has suggested that they will seek to familiarise with it later in the week.

Horan's Kerry counterpart Eamonn Fitzmaurice expressed satisfaction with Limerick as a venue however.

"It's an unusual one. At this stage of the summer, we love coming to Croke Park, we love playing in Croke Park, the players love coming up here.

"A 5pm game is something that is slightly different. At the end of the day it is an All-Ireland semi final, it doesn't matter where it is on really," he said.

Horan has also confirmed that Mayo will be challenging the red card handed out to their half-back Lee Keegan after 29 minutes.

"The way I look at it is he was being held on to. It was like a shrug to shake him off more than a kicking action I would say, " said Horan.

"I'm not blaming the referee. You can see how it would be seen. But to me, if we're getting straight red cards for that, the game is going down."

Irish Independent

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