Sunday 11 December 2016

Grounds for concern when choosing venues

Published 13/07/2016 | 02:30

Waterford opted against playing in Thurles this year, despite having beaten Tipperary there in the league in March. Photo: Sportsfile
Waterford opted against playing in Thurles this year, despite having beaten Tipperary there in the league in March. Photo: Sportsfile

Do venues matter or is a lot of it about perception?

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Take Tipperary v Waterford, who played the Munster SHC final in Thurles last year and in Limerick last Sunday. Waterford lost by five points in 2015 after being very competitive.

Waterford opted against playing in Thurles this year, despite having beaten Tipperary there in the league in March.

Indeed, most of Waterford's best displays in recent years have been in Thurles.

Still, they obviously felt that playing there was an advantage for Tipperary, so the game went to Limerick. The rest is a sorrowful mystery for Waterford, who lost by 21 points.

Now, if last year's final had been in Limerick and this year's in Thurles, Waterford supporters would have claimed that playing Tipp in Semple Stadium was a stupid idea.

The irony is that despite widespread support among the Waterford public for the Limerick venue, they didn't back it up by travelling.

The attendance was down 16,588 on last year, with much of the decrease on the Waterford side. Admittedly, the bad weather was a factor, especially since the Gaelic Grounds have only 8,500 covered seats, leaving it mighty uncomfortable for everyone else on a wet day.

With Dr Hyde Park unavailable, Roscommon have also decided to go neutral for the Connacht football final replay, opting for Castlebar, rather than returning to Galway.

But here's a thing. Roscommon have won only one (v Sligo 2010) of their last 10 championship games in MacHale Park, while Galway have won none of their five most recent Connacht games at home in Salthill so who will fancy Castlebar the most?

Irish Independent

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