THE Dublin county board is determined to press ahead with another Spring Series next year, even though the draft Allianz National League fixture plan has thrown up only one obvious double-header for the Dubs.
“OUR intention is to run a Spring Series,” Dublin chairman Andy Kettle told the Evening Herald, responding to Tuesday’s release of the draft NFL and NHL fixtures for 2013.
The hurlers’ relegation to Division 1B had already placed a potential spanner in plans to stage most of Dublin’s home league matches in Croke Park for the third year running.
As matters stand, the only double-header in the provisional league master-plan would see Anthony Daly’s troops host the Limerick hurlers and then Jim Gavin’s footballers square off with Tyrone on Saturday evening, March 16.
However, Dublin are keen to stage Gavin’s league baptism – against Cork on Saturday, February 2 – at Croker. For this to become a double-header, one option to explore would be Kildare’s willingness to give up home advantage for the second year running (as they did against Tyrone last February) by switching their glamour opener against All-Ireland champions Donegal to GAA headquarters.
Kildare have already stressed that they want to keep their home matches in Newbridge, despite health and safety concerns over a venue with a current restricted capacity of barely 8,000.
Kettle revealed: “We are introducing a new manager next year and there would be a novelty factor about that, so I would like to see the first match (against Cork) going to Croker.”
Beyond that, he floated the possibility of a Friday night fixture. This was originally proposed two years ago for a home game with Mayo but ultimately fell through and was played on a Sunday afternoon instead.
“I know Croke Park would be anxious to try a Friday night and, if there was a Friday, it would be one match, not a double-header,” Kettle explained.
Mayo are again due to play in Dublin (on Saturday, March 2), and it remains to be seen if switching this to a Friday night would suit the All-Ireland runners-up, given the long travel distances involved.
Dublin’s other home fixture, against Down, is pencilled in for Sunday, March 24.
According to Kettle, that weekend coincides with next year’s annual Congress and “the powers-that-be don’t want any Saturday evening games that day, because delegates may be ducking out a little bit early.”