Playing the All-Ireland semi-final replay in Limerick backfired: Duffy

Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Liam Ó Néill, right, and Ard Stiúrthóir of the GAA Páraic Duffy in attendance at the launch of the Ard Stiúrthóir's Report. Croke Park, Dublin

By Conor McKeon

GAA Director General Páraic Duffy has admitted that the Association "took a risk that backfired on us," in fixing a collegiate American football game on August 30, a move which forced the All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay between Kerry and Mayo to be moved to Limerick.

Writing in his annual report to Congress, Duffy concedes: "A decision made in the best interests of the Association ended up causing offence to supporters, an outcome that I very much regret." However, Duffy added: "I utterly refute the claim that the American football game was part of a simple money-making exercise for he sake of pure financial gain."

He elaborated: "We only think in terms of generating income that will go back to our clubs and counties, and that will help us fund projects already decided on."

However, speaking in Croke Park at the launch of the report yesterday, Duffy went on to suggest that future All-Ireland semi-final replays be taken away from Croke Park. "We have a lot of stadia outside of Croke Park which aren't used as often as they need to be used," he said.


"We have ten major venues throughout the country. One way of giving them more games is to stage replays of semi-finals outside of Croke Park.

"If we agree that - and they don't apply too often - I think that would be good.

"I accept all the arguments about the Limerick replay. As it happened, the event itself went very well.

"It does raise the question that if there are replays in the future, we should consider playing them at provincial venues. We have grounds there with large capacity which can take the games and are, at the moment, underused.

"In terms of replays, it's something we should look at, irrespective of (whether) Croke Park (is available).

"If it's a game involving Dublin, let's be realistic. It can't be a venue that prevents people from going to the game.

"Limerick didn't prevent anybody going to the game. It wasn't actually full as it turned out.

"If there is a venue that can deal with a replay, then we should consider that. That doesn't mean that all replays should be down the country - we'll take each one on its merits.

"But there are games where, if you're expecting a crowd of 30-35,000, it might be a good idea to consider playing those at provincial venues, because we have a lot of those. Where Croke Park is not necessarily the right choice of venue.

"The mistake we made this time was that we were wrong to assume there wouldn't be a replay," Duffy added.

"Central Council has since confirmed that it doesn't have a difficulty in principle in playing games of American football in Croke Park."