Monday 11 December 2017

Dr Hyde Park out of running to host Connacht final

Keith Higgins: Dampening Mayo hype
Keith Higgins: Dampening Mayo hype
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Connacht Council have confirmed that Dr Hyde Park is out of the running to host the Connacht SFC final, which means the game will be played in either Salthill or Castlebar.

The match – which will pit Mayo against Leitrim or London on July 21 – should be played in a neutral venue and Roscommon's county ground was expected to be chosen.

But the council have said Hyde Park is not being considered "arising from the Slattery Report on county GAA grounds" which put its capacity at fewer than 19,000.

The next obvious choice of neutral venue is Pearse Stadium, Salthill. But, given the date and the fact that Salthill is not the most accessible of grounds even outside the height of the summer holidays, the Galway venue could yet be ruled out of the reckoning.

That would leave MacHale Park as the only viable option. However, Mayo would get home advantage only if their final opponents are agreeable to playing there.

Connacht Council released a statement yesterday saying they will not fix the venue for the decider until after next Sunday's semi-final in Carrick-on-Shannon, which indicates that they will discuss the options with whoever gets through.

Meanwhile, Mayo defensive star Keith Higgins has warned his team-mates and the supporters that their third provincial title in a row is not a foregone conclusion.

The reigning champions are almost unbackable after handing Galway and Roscommon heavy defeats on what was felt to be the harder side of a very lop-sided Connacht draw.

"The same thing was said last year before we played Sligo in the Connacht final after beating Leitrim," Higgins said, pointing out that they only won that game by two points.

Speaking about the massive hype that is building around Mayo after they won their first two Connacht games by an aggregate of 29 points, Higgins said: "There's not much we can do about it.

"All we can do is go through our matches and play our (own) game. If that means that we're winning handy, what can we do? We have a few things we have to work on and we'll just focus on the next day."

Irish Independent

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