Saturday 21 July 2018

Deadlock remains over rejection of Newbridge

Time running out for qualifier as Brolly blasts GAA 'disconnect'

Kildare manager Cian O'Neill. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Kildare manager Cian O'Neill. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Colm Keys and Will Slattery

Kildare and the GAA remain deadlocked over the venue for the county's qualifier with Mayo on Saturday night as neither side backed down from the entrenched positions they took on Monday.

Kildare's threat not to play the game in Croke Park, fixed for Saturday at 7pm, was still in place, while the GAA remained steadfast that St Conleth's Park in Newbridge would not be hosting the venue over a range of health and safety concerns, among them the potential for supporters without tickets to flood the town on Saturday evening.

Earlier in the day, Kildare GAA gave notice of a 5pm press conference at which manager Cian O'Neill was due to attend to discuss the match but that was later cancelled, giving hope that some process of negotiation would begin.

But while there may have been overtures, no formal meeting is understood to have taken place. Time is now running out for the fixture to go ahead with neither side, so far, willing to yield.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Sunday Independent columnist Joe Brolly claimed that the GAA didn't have a legal case to move the game to Croke Park, and that the treatment of Kildare has been a 'disgrace'.

"The GAA are acting outside the law of the GAA," Brolly said. "It's clear that until it's round four of the qualifiers, that the first name out of the hat has a home draw and there's no caveat on that.

"It doesn't say, well if the capacity is more or less than a certain number. So Kildare are entitled by a matter of right, and a matter of law."

However, an addendum to rule 6.28 states that "the above arrangements shall be conditional on Home Grounds being deemed to meet the criteria set down by the National Health and Safety Committee and the Central Competitions Control Committee," giving them powers to do just that if they have a concern.

Brolly said it was a "PR disaster" for the GAA. "I have not seen a reaction on social media like this ever. Gaels all over the country are saying, 'Enough is enough'. Kildare being treated like this is a step too far."

"I've been saying for a long time that, sooner or later, there's going to be a point where GAA people are going to say, 'F*** this'," Brolly said.

"This is the last straw. Making a few pounds is all very well but there comes a point where you have got to look to the greater good of the GAA family. I think this might well be that point. The GAA needs to be very, very careful."

Brolly said the issue pointed to a growing "disconnect" between Croke Park and the rest of the GAA and hit out at new director-general Tom Ryan's silence on the issue so far, claiming if he himself was in the position he would have done things differently.

"This absolutely typifies the direction the GAA is taking," Brolly said. "If I was the director-general of the GAA, this would never have happened," Brolly added.

"I'd say, 'We've got this wrong. I've intervened and Kildare have the home draw here'. That would be a very smart move in terms of bringing people on board with the new director-general. This typifies the disconnect. Increasingly, Croke Park is seen as the enemy of the GAA family."

Ironically, Kildare have been granted planning permission for the first phase of redevelopment of St Conleth's Park which they aim to have ready by April 2020 with a 15,000 capacity at a cost of €7.5m. If Kildare don't play in Croke Park, the Cavan/Tyrone match will still go ahead there.

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Irish Independent

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