Saturday 25 February 2017

No let-up in 'keep off grass' policy for triple-header

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

CROKE Park's firm 'keep off the grass' message will be strictly applied for Sunday's triple-header of Gala All-Ireland finals.

The crowd is not expected to be much more than 20,000 at Headquarters, yet fans from the five participating counties will still be kept off the park, in keeping with the GAA's new prohibition on pitch invasions.

"We are following what is now the standard health and safety procedure in Croke Park," revealed president Joan O'Flynn yesterday. "Supporters will be asked to applaud and show their appreciation from the stands."

With camogie hosting its first All-Ireland triple-header of senior, intermediate and junior finals, the schedule is so tight that a lap of honour for the victorious teams is unlikely to be possible until after the new-look senior final between Galway and Wexford.

But O'Flynn said she did not envisage any problems keeping supporters in their seats, not least because only the Hogan and Davin stands will be open.

Despite being a triple-header, the attendance is expected to drop from last year's 26,000, largely because the women's deciders are no longer being played in conjunction with the All-Ireland U-21 hurling final.

But O'Flynn is delighted that there is no direct clash between their big day and the U-21 showdown, which is being played on Saturday evening. She is also pleased that hurling administrators across all the counties involved have come on board to avoid a direct clash with club championship matches.

"It's been a big help that all the competing hurling fixtures, in each of the counties involved, have been cancelled, so there's a great chance for the wider hurling community to come and support camogie," O'Flynn said.

"That's a really positive thing and a big step forward."

Previous to the GAA and camogie association's joint-hosting arrangement, there were occasions when the camogie association was furious with the clash of the All-Ireland U-21 final and their marquee event.

When the GAA decided to 'go it alone' again this year with the U-21 final, there were fears in the women's game that this clash might recur.

But O'Flynn said yesterday, that this "never came into question".

"Lessons have been learned and we're glad about that. We've reached an accommodation now," she said.

As for the GAA ending their joint- hosting arrangement, she said: "It gives an opportunity for two additional teams to play in Croke Park and that really elevates the status of our championships."

Sunday's senior final (4.0) pits 2007 champions Wexford against beaten 2008 finalists Galway, who knocked out Cork's three-in-a-row chasing Rebelettes after a replay.

Wexford are chasing a 'double' as they have also reached the intermediate final (2.0), where they face Offaly, last year's junior champions. And last year's beaten finalists Waterford face Antrim in the junior final (12.0).

Irish Independent

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