Chair of the CCCC claims there could be 'animosity' among fans if Kildare-Mayo game went ahead at Newbridge
The Chairman of the GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) has said they came to the decision to host Kildare's Kildare's Round 3 qualifier with Mayo at Croke Park in the interest of fans in both counties.
Tickets are already on sale for despite the fact that the Lilywhites are insisting that the game goes ahead at St Conleth's Park in Newbridge.
The GAA and Kildare are at loggerheads over the fixture after Cian O'Neill's side were drawn first in yesterday morning's draw but were denied home advantage on the basis of the 8,000 capacity at their Newbridge headquarters.
The Kildare County Board and O'Neill last night made very strong statements stating that there were no health and safety issues, they had cleared the fixture with local gardaí and were calling on the GAA to honour the rules of the draw that the first team drawn would play at home.
The GAA’s director of games administration Fergal McGill has said that the game will be awarded to Mayo if Kildare fail to show at Croker.
It opens up the possibility that Kildare could take the issue to court, get an injunction and hold up the entire Championship should they be forced to forfeit the game.
Speaking on Off The Ball AM this morning, CCCC chair Ned Quinn said their decision was made because after season-ticket holders were given their tickets there would only be around 4,000 left to divide between both counties and also because there were health and safety concerns.
"The rules say that the home venue shall be subject to approval by the CCCC and we felt it was untenable to have the game there given that Kildare would only have 2,000 fans or maybe less if they went on general sale.
"That's the decision we made
"The logic of the decision was that one could anticipate a crowd of 20,000 for this game and there was going to be 4,000 tickets on sale between the two counties and to us it meant that we should move the game out of that venue in the best interest of all spectators, both Kildare and Mayo.
"I cannot add any further to his."
Asked to elaborate on the safety issues, he said: "People are eager to see their own county playing championship and it was a possibility that people would turn up seeking to get admission to try and buy tickets outside the ground despite knowing that tickets weren't available.
"The risk would be that people would get involved with other spectators, that's the risk.
"I wouldn't call it crowd trouble but there could be animosity shown to people who had tickets and they couldn't get them, claiming they were regular supporters of Kildare."
Quinn reiterated that Kildare were given the chance to nominate another venue but had not done so.
"I just want to clarify again that Kildare had the opportunity to nominate a venue other than Croke Park, but declined to do so.
"There is precedent for this. Other counties have been faced with a similar situation and have nominated venues to host the games and the games went ahead without any trouble or any animosity.
"The most obvious one is Waterford in this year's Munster championship where they nominated Limerick and Thurles as their venues for two of their would-be home games.
"When I was travelling home I did not see the Six One News but I was somewhat surprised by what Kildare said but then you would expect a county wouldn't be happy with a situation like that, but generally counties accept the rules of the game."
In light of the controversy, Quinn admitted that the situation would be reviewed but not until the Championship concludes in September.
"We made a decision at Congress regarding the Championship but I don't think we examined the consequences of home venues in every scenario and this could reoccur again.
"We do need to put very positive and very straight rules in place that counties will know exactly when they can have a home game and when they can't have a home game."
Asked what happens next: "I don't know we'll have to wait and see. My hope is that the game will go ahead as fixed."
More to follow