Donegal facing Croker snub with 'Super 8s' protest set to fail
Donegal will learn today that nothing can be done to address their concerns over venue arrangements for the 'Super 8s' All-Ireland football quarter-finals, where Dublin are scheduled to play two of their three games in Croke Park.
A top GAA delegation, which is expected to include new director-general Tom Ryan, will meet Donegal County Board officers this morning but there will be no change in the venue rota, which is laid down by rule.
Donegal played a significant part in drafting that rule, with two senior figures from the county speaking enthusiastically in favour of introducing the Super 8s format at last year's Congress.
It included a clear provision for the four provincial winners to play their opening game in Croke Park, after which they will all have one home and one away fixture.
Since Croke Park has been Dublin's unofficial home venue for several years, it means that they will have two Super 8 games there, starting against Donegal on Saturday week.
Donegal issued a statement on Tuesday, seeking clarification on "how any county may use a ground as both neutral and a home venue."
They also called for a meeting with top GAA officials in an attempt "to ensure a level playing field for every team who will qualify for the All-Ireland quarter-final group stage and ensure that no team has any advantage over any other team."
Donegal contend that Croke Park cannot be regarded as Dublin's neutral and home venue. However, that is actually the case in this instance as the first round is fixed for HQ by rule, while Dublin will obviously nominate it as their home ground for the last outing, having played all except three of their championship games there over the past 12 years.
Dublin are clearly in a privileged position under the 'Super 8s' arrangement but since it's written into rule that the four provincial winners play their first game in Croke Park, it would require a Congress decision to change it. That won't please Donegal, but there's no way around it this year. It remains to be seen if they bring a motion to Congress next February seeking change, or if other counties become involved, now that the issue has been highlighted.
It seems likely that will be the case, especially if Dublin maintain their winning championship run, which extends back to the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final when they lost to Donegal.
After Dublin's first game against Donegal, the All-Ireland champions will play Cork or Tyrone in Páirc Uí Chaoimh or Omagh and complete the programme against Armagh or Roscommon in Croke Park.