International Rules heading to Ulster
An Ulster venue will host one of the two International Rules games next October, it has emerged, as the GAA continue their recent policy of taking one of the games out of Dublin.
Pearse Stadium in Galway hosted the first 2006 Test which was a precursor for the violence in Croke Park eight days later, leading to a two-year series suspension.
When it came back to Ireland in 2010, the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick was the initial host, with Croke Park anchoring the series on the second weekend.
Now, after visiting Connacht and Munster over the last six years, it has been established that the GAA are ready to take the series north for the first time, with a number of prospective venues in the pipeline.
However, Casement Park in Belfast is understood not to be on that list.
It is due for reconstruction later this year but would not have been considered anyway due to the specific demands of the series. It would have been the preferred venue if it had been brought up to modern standards by now.
Pairc Esler in Newry, the Athletic Grounds in Armagh, Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan and Healy Park in Omagh will be considered, while Celtic Park in Derry may also be in the running as it takes on the role of UK City of Culture for 2013.
A decision on the venue is expected in the coming weeks, while a manager will also be announced.
The GAA dispensed with the trend of appointing former inter-county managers – most with All-Ireland titles to their names – when they chose Derry's Anthony Tohill for the 2010 and 2011 series and that may be the case again.
Meanwhile, the GAA will begin celebrations of the centenary of Croke Park on the night of the league double-header of Kildare v Donegal and Dublin v Cork on February 2.