Wednesday 28 September 2016

GAA stands by '11th-hour' call to make Hyde Park switch

Published 05/04/2016 | 02:30

GAA director-general Páraic Duffy. Photo: Sportsfile
GAA director-general Páraic Duffy. Photo: Sportsfile

GAA director-general Páraic Duffy has defended Roscommon's handling of the Dr Hyde Park pitch fiasco that saw the Allianz League match with Dublin moved to Carrick-on-Shannon at short notice on Sunday morning.

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Duffy did accept there may have been grounds for making the decision earlier but said he understood that for Roscommon it was a "huge call".

The 'Hyde' surface has caused endless problems for Roscommon during their first season back in Division 1 with the result that they played their four home games at four different venues.

After the mudbath that the Mayo game was, seven days earlier, huge doubts were raised over viability of the surface for the visit of the All-Ireland champions. But Roscommon's desire to host Dublin, giving the local economy a lift in the process, resulted in an 11th-hour decision that backfired.

He outlined that the pitch was inspected on Friday evening and was "absolutely playable".

"A lot of work had been done on it during the week," he said. "Obviously there were concerns about the weather forecast and what might happen over the weekend and it was inspected again on Saturday by an inter-county referee."

At that stage there were doubts expressed, he conceded, and that was probably the time to pull the plug and make the switch.

Overnight

"There was water on the pitch, and it all depended on what happened overnight. There was consideration given at that stage whether the game should be changed," he said.

"Having said that, changing the game was a big call. For Roscommon it was a huge game with the All-Ireland champions at home and they wanted to play it at home for all kinds of reasons, the local community, etc.

"Of course we could have made a decision to pull it out of there on Saturday, but if it turned out Hyde Park was playable on Sunday, people would say, 'Why didn't you wait until the Sunday.' So you can't win in this situation. I don't think too many people were inconvenienced. Some were, not too many.

"The long-term issue here is they need to rectify the situation at Hyde Park. I think in the circumstances you were in it was a no-win situation. It's a matter of opinion after that."

The GAA laid on two buses to supporters who had used public transport, explained Duffy, and one of those buses wasn't full.

He also praised the input of Leitrim officials and ground staff in making their facility available at such short notice.

"These all require judgements and people can form their own opinion. I personally feel, in the circumstances, it was handled pretty well. I wouldn't criticise Roscommon, our own CCCC and certainly not Leitrim."

Irish Independent

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