Sunday 25 February 2018

Hyde Park replay still a long haul for London

Oh, what a let-down – when I first heard that the Connacht semi-final replay between London and Leitrim was to be played at Hyde Park I said to myself, now that's really doing things big and bringing Gaelic football to a worldwide audience.

But, alas, I was disappointed. The replay will not be in Hyde Park, London but in Roscommon's venue of the same name.

Much more mundane, but of course the prize is still as important for both teams – particularly London who yesterday were within minutes of playing in a provincial football final. That would be their best result since they were beaten by Dublin in the All-Ireland in Jones's Road 110 years ago.

But it must be a shock for the London party to be told they would not be getting the replay in Ruislip after travelling to Carrick-on-Shannon.

One presumes that they will at least be financially compensated as the cost of flying back within a week will be very expensive with air fares being so high at short notice and in the middle of summer.

I was surprised at the level of interest in this game which drew a crowd of 7,698, but in the midlands there was a particular interest with London players who were natives of Cavan, Longford and Leitrim among others and their manager, Paul Coggins, being a Roscommon man.

I presume the Connacht CCC were in complete charge of this replay fixture and in their wisdom opted to keep the game in their own province which, of course, is the norm for championship replays in any province.

Yet many neutrals will feel that London should be entitled to play at home.

Irish Independent

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