Monday 22 January 2018

Dubs face possible Nowlan Park trip in Leinster as 'bye' plan ruled out

John Horan suggested Dublin should get a bye in the Leinster Championship semi-finals
John Horan suggested Dublin should get a bye in the Leinster Championship semi-finals
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

A potential move to give Dublin a bye into a Leinster football semi-final has fallen by the wayside.

The idea, which is already in place for the reigning champions in the Leinster hurling championship, was suggested last June by Leinster chairman John Horan in the wake of Dublin's 27-point hammering of Longford in a provincial quarter-final.

Horan posed the question as to whether the football championship in Leinster, nine of the last 10 of which have been won by Dublin, would be better served if the Dubs, as champions, entered later rather than at quarter-final stage.

However, soundings taken by Leinster over the summer have pointed to no change to the status quo, with Dublin themselves keen to retain a quarter-final entry.

"Dublin wanted the game and the rest of the province felt they needed to be playing that game as well," said Horan (above) yesterday.

"It's different in hurling. With seven teams, one team has to have a bye so that's why it's the champions who go straight through to the semi-final."

The question over where Dublin play that quarter-final will be addressed after the provincial draws are made in just over two weeks' time.

It is now thought likely that if Dublin are drawn against any of the south Leinster counties - Wexford, Wicklow or Carlow - in a quarter-final, the fixture could take place in Nowlan Park.

With a capacity in excess of 20,000 and seating for up to 17,000, the home of Kilkenny hurling is thought to be the most appropriate venue outside Croke Park to host a Dublin game 'down the country.'

Many of the other stadia do not have the seating required to accommodate a Championship match involving Dublin.

Dublin have not played a Championship game outside Croke Park since 2006 when they beat Longford in Pearse Park, and the provincial body have drawn criticism for that.

Since then they have played 54 consecutive Championship matches in Croke Park, only once losing a Leinster match - to Meath in 2010, having drawn against them three years earlier.

Fourteen of their 32 wins in the 34 Leinster matches they have played in the 10 campaigns since Longford have yielded double-digit victories.

Leinster saw their football final attendance figures drop by 14,000 this year.

Irish Independent

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