Thursday 23 May 2019

Donegal chairman says they brought Croke Park motion to combat 'unfairness' and he took issue Seán Kelly's 'negative' comments

Donegal GAA Chairman Mick McGrath speaking in favour of Motion 39, relating to counties nominating Croke Park as their home venue in the football intercounty quarter final group stage, which was defeated, during the GAA Annual Congress 2019 at the Clayton Whites Hotel in Ferrybank South, Wexford. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Donegal GAA Chairman Mick McGrath speaking in favour of Motion 39, relating to counties nominating Croke Park as their home venue in the football intercounty quarter final group stage, which was defeated, during the GAA Annual Congress 2019 at the Clayton Whites Hotel in Ferrybank South, Wexford. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Donegal will not revisit the subject of addressing what they see as an imbalance in the structure of the Super 8s that allows Dublin to play two games at Croke Park.

The Ulster county brought a motion to the GAA Congress last Saturday that, if passed, would have meant that no team could have used GAA headquarters as both a home venue and a neutral venue.

Their proposal was defeated by a 64pc majority. Despite over a third of the ballot agreeing with the motion, no one from outside Donegal argued in favour of the motion.

Dublin GAA CEO John Costello described the motion as “divisive and mean-spirited”. Former GAA former president Seán Kelly from Kerry, Wexford delegate and former county football and hurling manager Tony Dempsey and Meath’s Francis Flynn also spoke against the motion, with Kelly describing it as 'negative'.

Speaking on Off The Ball AM, Donegal County Board chairman Mick McGrath felt some of the commentary surrounding their idea was wide of the mark.

"We were (disappointed), the motion came from our members in Donegal. A simple question was asked that we just didn't have the answer for, 'How can a county declare a venue as deemed to be both a neutral and a home venue?'," he said.

"We know the exceptional circumstances that Dublin have in hiring Croke Park for their games and this was totally exaggerated, with the defence of it, that we were trying to move Dublin out of Croke Park altogether.

"We weren't trying to move Dublin out for the O'Byrne Cup, National League, the Leinster championship, All-Ireland semi-finals and final. It was just the one game and the reasoning behind that is that it was deemed that there would be a home game, an away game and a game at a neutral venue and then when you have one county who can declare a ground as neutral and home, our members were puzzled by that.

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"It came down to one word.. unfair.

"It was drummed up that we were trying to muscle in on getting Dublin removed completely from Croke Park but that was not the case of our motion whatsoever.

"A motion like that was always going to get a lot of debate. Dublin defended quite strongly and we have no difficulty with that but we would have had some difficulty with some of the wording that was used by one particular individual.

"We have no problem with John Costello, he used some terse language, but we accept that we're big boys. It was probably some of the words used by Sean Kelly. If there was any divisiveness, it came from [Kelly], not us.

"We would have had a good enough relationship with him over the years and we weren't looking for any favours. We were only looking for fairness.

"To say that we were negative, we are far from negative. We were at no stage afraid or concerned about playing Dublin in Croke Park.

"We've played them many a time there and we're the last county to beat them in the Championship there, so we've no issue going to Croke Park any time."

McGrath confirmed that they see the matter as closed.

"We will be parking it up as from today forward because we don't see any more sense in discussing it any further."

Speaking on the same show, Sean Kelly defended his 'negative' remark.

"I just commented practically on the wording of the motion. It was written in a negative sense because it said no county could use Croke Park as their home venue. That's a negative. If it was approached in a different way, it may have got a different result," he said.

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