Saturday 24 March 2018

GAA defends fencing of Hill


The GAA have decided to raise the height of the barriers in front of Hill 16 by almost two metres.

Following a safety review in the wake of the pitch invasion after the controversial Leinster football final, the association confirmed it had accepted a recommendation from its management committee to implement the change. The barriers in Hill 16 will now be 2.8metres high, which effectively means that the famous terrace will be fenced off.

However, the GAA has defended its decision to raise the height of the barriers.

"Traditionally, the Hill is the first area to invade the pitch; once that breaks, the rest of the Park goes," said communications manager Alan Milton. "But this is not a kneejerk reaction to the Leinster final, it's been an ongoing review. What happened with the referee after the Louth-Meath match was a once-off because the referee stayed on the field."

According to Milton, the decision was made in response to increasing concerns regarding spectator safety. When crowds invade the pitch, many of the subsequent exits used are not designed for large crowds, he added, and often ambulances and emergency services are blocked by the masses of people.

Stadium director Peter McKenna described the decision to install fencing at the Hill 16 end as a "remedial" move but warned that Health and Safety officials may order that the remainder of the ground be fenced if pitch invasions continue.

"I never wanted to see this but equally, we have a duty of care to everyone who comes to the stadium, to ensure that it's a hospitable place," said McKenna. "It's not that at the moment and we've got to take some action, regrettable as that is."

The portable plastic barrier which has been in use along the front of the Cusack, Hogan and Davin Stands will continue to be used. In recent weeks, this has covered the first three rows of seats. This will remain intact for the All-Ireland semi-finals but, due to the demand for tickets for the All-Ireland finals, alternative safety measures will be used by the GAA.

"We hope to find a way to distribute the first three rows of tickets in the Park to non-competing counties for the All-Ireland final," added Milton.

Sunday Independent

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