Should Dublin play outside of Croke Park?
The debate surrounding whether Dublin should play some of their Championship games outside of Croke Park is getting louder due to their current dominance.
It is an annual debate on bar stools and within the media, but such is the perceived strength of the reigning All-Ireland champions and some emphatic victories at GAA headquarters, it is a discussion that seems to be gathering pace.
Here are both sides of the argument.
No – Croke Park is home
It is hard to envisage the Dubs not playing at Croke Park and it is not their fault that our showpiece venue is located in the capital.
Parnell Park is also available, if perhaps limited by size for championship, but with Croke Park on the doorstep, utilising the facilities on Jones Road seems logical.
No team in the country can bring the razzamatazz of the Dubs on a championship Sunday and above all else, the powers that be simply rely on big crowds and the cash windfall. Apart from All-Ireland Final Day, only a fixture involving the Dubs can sell-out the famous venue.
It’s also not so long since the venue was deemed a hindrance on days when the boys in blue struggled at the business end of the season against the likes of Kerry, Tyrone and Armagh.
Taking the scalp of Dublin on their own patch is a motivation for players right around the country and always has been. The better Dublin sides have responded, others have struggled, but has always made for colourful clashes.
They may be a more formidable side now, but surely their upturn on fortunes should not dictate such a drastic change as has been suggested in some quarters.
Yes – Time for Dublin to hit the road
The most obvious argument is that if every other team in the country travels, why shouldn’t the Dubs?
The financial argument for the earlier provincial rounds doesn’t always stack up either when attendances in May and June can be sparse, with opposition fans travelling sometimes in fear, never mind hope.
Not only would the likes of Aughrim, Navan and Mullingar for example be packed to the rafters with such a glamour tie – swelling the local coffers at a time when it is badly needed – it would also provide a boost in confidence for the home side.
Surely a 10,000 sell-out at Pearse Park would be better than a half-empty Croke Park - at best in some cases - for the betterment of the game?
Some of Dublin’s few forays outside the capital have been some of the most memorable games in recent times, such as the 1983 All-Ireland semi-final in Cork and the brilliant clash with Kerry in Thurles in 2001, forever remembered for Maurice Fitzgerald’s virtuoso sideline point.
Dublin supporters will travel in numbers and the championship would be all the better for it.
As Colm Parkinson noted today, one of the big draws for any inter-county player is running out on the hallowed turf. Unfortunately the novelty he says can wear off quickly when tasting defeat after defeat.
The opportunity of playing at Croke Park will always be the strongest argument put forward against such a change, but a proposed move for the Dubs would only be until the Leinster Final and subsequent fixtures. The allure of Croke Park should remain just that. Playing in front of a half-empty stadium is hardly an inter-county player's idea of living the dream
Between league games and the decision by other counties to forfeit their home games, Dublin are beneficiaries of home advantage. Lest we not forget that it is called home advantage for a reason and Gaelic Games is no different to all other sports where visiting sides statistically come out the wrong side of the result more often than not.
Forget finances and tradition, it's time for a level playing field.