Monday 23 July 2018

Kildare climbdown: GAA insists health and safety was reason behind hosting qualifier at Croke Park

11 March 2018; Kildare manager Cian O'Neill speaks to his team ahead of the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 5 match between Kildare and Mayo at St Conleth's Park in Newbridge, Kildare. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
11 March 2018; Kildare manager Cian O'Neill speaks to his team ahead of the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 5 match between Kildare and Mayo at St Conleth's Park in Newbridge, Kildare. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Former GAA president Sean Kelly welcomed the move

Ryan Nugent

The GAA has denied an initial decision to host the Kildare-Mayo football qualifier at Croke Park had anything to do with money, after the fixture was rescheduled for Newbridge following uproar.

Kildare had threatened to boycott this weekend's clash with last year's All-Ireland finalists after it was earmarked for Croke Park despite the Lilywhites being drawn at home.

Health and safety reasons were cited by the GAA for hosting the game at headquarters.

However, it has since backed down on its stance, following assurances that safety issues will be adequately addressed.

"The GAA wishes to point out that the decision by the CCCC [Central Competitions Control Committee] to fix the game for Croke Park originally was based on serious concerns around the health and safety of patrons attending the fixture," it said in a statement.

"The CCCC has received assurances that these issues will be adequately addressed."

Speaking to RTÉ last night, the GAA's head of communications, Alan Milton, said it had nothing to do with broadcasting requirements with Sky Sports or the GAA making money.

"Categorically not. Some of the most experienced and distinguished administrators in the GAA, including our provincial secretaries, serve on the CCCC," he said.

"They've organised hundreds of games down through the years, they've vast experience and the only driver here, as I've already said, was the health and safety of our patrons who attend the games.

"I'm not too sure if people place enough store on health and safety until something goes wrong, but I can tell you it was the only motivation behind the fixing of the game for Croke Park."

St Conleth's Park will be able to hold 8,200 supporters for the match, while the clash of Cavan and Tyrone - also initially scheduled for Croke Park - has been moved to Brewster Park in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

"Tickets purchased for the Croke Park double-header fixture will not be valid for these games and a refund process from the point of purchase has been put in place," the GAA said.

"Supporters without tickets are urged not to come to St Conleth's Park on Saturday."

Last night Kildare GAA issued a statement reiterating this.

"Kildare GAA fully accept that the decision to play in St Conleth's Park will impact significantly on the number of tickets that are available for Kildare supporters and that it will not be possible to facilitate concessions at the game."

MEP and former GAA president Sean Kelly said he was delighted the game would go ahead and that it was moved to Newbridge, describing it as a "sensible and positive outcome to a tough situation" adding that new championship formats highlight the need for upgrades to stadiums across the country.

Allan Shine, of the Kildare Chamber of Commerce, said businesses in the county were delighted with the outcome and it meant that some €450,000 would go into the local economy.

He said Kildare was in line for a bumper weekend with the Derby Festival also taking place between Friday and Sunday.

"That €450,000 would have been lost and gone straight into the Dublin economy, but now it's in Kildare so it's very welcome," he said.

The match will throw-in at 7pm on Saturday.

Irish Independent

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