Dubs fury

Entire future of Spring Series now in doubt

Conor McKeon

THE future of the ‘Spring Series’ is in major doubt and the Dublin County Board may pull the plug on plans to host any of their National Football or Hurling League matches in Croke Park next year.

The Dublin County Board initiative was initially intended to span three years with plans already in train to stage all of the county’s football and hurling home league matches in Croke Park in 2012.

But the GAA’s decision not to permit a Friday night fixture for Dublin’s forthcoming football clash with Mayo – despite agreement from both counties – coupled with a problem over ticketing may now end plans for Dublin to go back to Croke Park next year.

Dublin County Board Chief Executive, John Costello, told the Herald today that the future of the series was “in jeopardy” and also slammed Croke Park’s ticketing system as an “abject failure.”

“We fully intend to review the whole operation at the conclusion of the National League,” Costello said.

“But suffice to say for the meantime that many of our experiences have been negative, which is very unfortunate as one of our main ambitions with the Spring Series has been to cultivate a greater awareness and love of our national games in our youth.”

“But the future of the Spring Series being held in Croke Park is in jeopardy. From Croke Park’s new ticketing system, which was an abject failure initially and is now being modified on a weekly basis, to the CCCC’s refusal to agree to the wishes of both the Dublin and Mayo County Boards to play our game on a Friday, we feel central powers could have been a lot more helpful in our quest to promote our national games,” Costello added.

Dublin were keen to test the appetite amongst the sporting public for Friday night football, particularly given the bumper weekend of sport on which it falls.

Croke Park will host the All-Ireland club finals on St Patrick’s Day (Thursday) while Ireland host England in Lansdowne Road in the Six Nations on Saturday on the same week as the Cheltenham racing festival.

Dublin County Board Chairman, Andy Kettle, confirmed that there would be a review of the situation at the end of the current series as a matter of procedure and predicted that the attendance for the match would be down down in the region of “seven or eight thousand people” as a result of the decision.

Kettle said that if the board faced “insurmountable difficulties” with regards their scheduling, the future of Dublin playing their League matches at GAA headquarters would come into doubt.

“I always felt that this particular Friday was different to the other 51 in the year because people have St Patrick’s Day off and plenty will take the Friday off before the weekend. It was a huge opportunity to see how people would react to GAA events on a Friday night.”