Saturday 1 October 2016

Off The Ball: O'Moore Park snub still makes no sense to me

Colm Parkinson

Published 18/11/2015 | 02:30

Next year’s provincial championship quarter-final, between Dublin and Laois/Wicklow, in Nowlan Park, Kilkenny
Next year’s provincial championship quarter-final, between Dublin and Laois/Wicklow, in Nowlan Park, Kilkenny

Nearly a week has passed since the Leinster Council decided to play next year's provincial championship quarter-final, between Dublin and Laois/Wicklow, in Nowlan Park, Kilkenny. And I still can't make sense of the decision.

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O'Moore Park will have a capacity of 25,000 next summer with seats for 6,250. Nowlan Park can hold 26,000 with 17,700 seated, so overall capacity is not an issue. The reason for choosing Kilkenny, a county that doesn't even promote Gaelic football, is apparently "patron comfort".

One of the stands in Nowlan Park provides patrons with old, uncomfortable benches, not seats. The Dubs love to stand anyway and create an atmosphere. Hill 16, their spiritual home, has a capacity of 13,000. I would argue that it's a bigger issue for Dublin that Nowlan Park has capacity for fewer than 9,000 in the terraces.

Amazingly, Croke Park and the Leinster Council gave the Laois county board €800,000 and €200,000 respectively to renovate O'Moore Park, yet won't give them a big game in which to use it.

Also, Laois played Dublin in Croke Park in 2014 so why wouldn't they get home advantage this time?

The Leinster Council is charged with developing the GAA in the province. On their website the section 'Games development in your county' outlines initiatives aimed at youth development. What better way to promote Gaelic football in Laois than to give the county this fixture.

My earliest O'Moore Park memory was the visit of All Ireland champions Kerry in 1986. I was only eight, and it was just a challenge, but I still remember seeing the Kerry legends up close and relating the Laois players to them. Suddenly, the Laois players became the heroes I wanted to emulate.

I'm hopeful that the Leinster Council can refix the game in O'Moore Park, if Laois beat Wicklow. Or else, as Colm Begely put it last week, just move it to Croke Park.

Irish Independent

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