GAA director-general Páraic Duffy has rejected claims by a prominent Galway hurling official concerning the controverial scheduling of the Bord Gáis All-Ireland U21 hurling final for Semple Stadium tomorrow evening (7.0).
Galway are furious over Croke Park's decision to fix their U21 showdown with Tipperary for Thurles, effectively giving the Munster champions (and already hot favourites) home advantage for tomorrow's decider.
This prompted a broadside this morning from Galway hurling board secretary John Fahey, who labelled the venue choice as "absolutely disgraceful".
But two claims by Fahey - firstly that the Central Competitions Control Committee never met to reconsider the decision, and secondly that the CCCC only chose Thurles because they were "told to do it" - have been vehemently dismissed by the GAA's leading official.
Duffy told the Evening Herald: "Last Friday night I attended a meeting in Athlone with officials of the Galway county board and hurling board, at their request. It was attended by Gerry Larkin, the county board chairman; Michael Monaghan, the county secretary; Joe Byrne, the chairman of the hurling board; John Fahey, secretary of the hurling board; and Pat Egan, member of Coiste Bainistí (the GAA's high-powered Management Committee), from Galway.
"At that meeting, Galway made their case in relation to the fixture and the venue. I explained at the meeting that fixing the venue was a matter for the CCCC and that the CCCC had never been instructed to fix the venue for Thurles," the Monaghan man insisted.
"I expressed my opinion that Thurles on an ongoing basis is the correct venue for the U21 hurling final, irrespective of who is in it - in the same way that Croke Park is the correct venue for All-Ireland senior finals, irrespective of who is in it.
"I explained that was my opinion, but the selection of the venue was a matter for CCCC. I suggested to them that they write to CCCC and told them if they wanted the decision reviewed, it was a matter for them (CCCC), not for me or Christy Cooney. My understanding is that they then wrote to CCCC, who met last Sunday and considered their correspondence, and who confirmed Thurles as the venue. They are the facts," Duffy concluded.
The director-general's statement directly contradicts Fahey's version. The Galway official was today quoted as saying: "Páraic Duffy promised us that the CCCC would revisit it, but they never met and yet Páraic Duffy will tell the public, through the media, and they will be gullible enough to see that the CCCC are totally responsible for the fixture. They only made the fixture in Thurles because they were told to do it. That's a fact," Fahey claimed.
"Can you imagine that nine people, representatives of the four provinces, would sit down with two teams, Galway and Tipperary, in an All-Ireland final and that any man would suggest Thurles as the proper venue for this? Could you comprehend that happening? Absolutely disgraceful."
The hurling board secretary added: "There is total disenchantment within the county. We are trying to encourage people and we are going to the clubs to try and get them to buy tickets, but there are five players on the panel from my club so I know the interest is not there. We can't do much more," he added.