Saturday 10 December 2016

Leinster defend U-turn on Portlaoise

Published 18/11/2016 | 02:30

Laois who were unhappy they weren’t permitted to face the Dubs at their home venue last summer and instead travelled to Kilkenny’s Nowlan Park. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Laois who were unhappy they weren’t permitted to face the Dubs at their home venue last summer and instead travelled to Kilkenny’s Nowlan Park. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Leinster Council chairman John Horan has defended the decision to fix Dublin to play in Portlaoise next summer - despite previously ruling the venue unsuitable.

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Should Carlow beat Wexford in their 2017 championship opener, the All-Ireland champions will travel to O'Moore Park to start the defence of their Leinster Championship on June 3/4.

The decision piqued interest in Laois who were unhappy they weren't permitted to face the Dubs at their home venue last summer and instead travelled to Kilkenny's Nowlan Park.

But Horan explained that they took the "cautious" decision in moving that game to the province's second largest stadium.

Read more: On the road again: Dublin to be taken out of Croke Park for Leinster opener in 2017

"Last year (2016) we done it on the basis that we were going to the biggest venue to test it out, and we were taking a cautious step," he said.

"It hadn't been done in 10 years, the Dublin that's there now is a different Dublin that was there 10 years ago. They have four All-Irelands under their belt in that sense, so we felt that we had to take that cautious step last year and test the market and we tested the market.

"Now we feel we can take another step forward and spread the actual base that Dublin would use. You'd be talking about Wexford, Portlaoise and Tullamore as possible venues, but again it'll be reviewed every year and just see how it goes.

"If there are problems out of it this year, we'll obviously have to review them. But we had no problems last year, Kilkenny did a great job and there was a great atmosphere for anyone that was there."

Leinster took a small financial hit that weekend but Horan puts that down to the fact that their double-header was moved to Saturday night from Sunday due to a Bruce Springsteen concert. And he hinted the arrangement will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

"I think once we had taken the step to take Dublin out, I think going forward that it's a good idea," he said.

Irish Independent

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