Saturday 21 April 2018

Expect financial hit if Dubs go on road, Leinster counties warned

Peter Brady and Sean Pender of Edenderry with Rathnew's Damien Power and Peter Dignam in attendance at the Leinster GAA Club Championships launch yesterday in Barretstown Castle, Co Kildare
Peter Brady and Sean Pender of Edenderry with Rathnew's Damien Power and Peter Dignam in attendance at the Leinster GAA Club Championships launch yesterday in Barretstown Castle, Co Kildare
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Counties must be prepared for a new balance between finance available to them and taking a Dublin game out of Croke Park, Leinster Council chief executive Michael Reynolds has warned.

Leinster counties will decide on dates and venues for their provincial football and hurling championships on November 11, with a number of proposals expected.

With much more seating available, Nowlan Park has emerged as the most likely venue if the meeting decides to take Dublin out of Croke Park for a championship game for the first time in a decade.

Two years ago a Laois motion to take Dublin on the road for their quarter-final was supported by just Laois themselves.

The Irish Independent understands that Laois will be proposing O'Moore Park once again if they overcome Wicklow in a first-round game. The Portlaoise venue's capacity will be 25,000 by the end of this year.

There is no guarantee that Leinster counties will support a move for Nowlan Park, given the greater revenues generated from Dublin games in Croke Park.

Michael Reynolds, speaking at yesterday's club championship launch in Barretstown Castle, who are their official charity partners, said seating was a big factor in Nowlan Park being mentioned as a possible venue for a Dublin match with Wicklow or Laois.

"There's 17,000 seating in Nowlan Park, Portlaoise has 6,000, Tullamore has 7,000," he said. "Season ticket holders is part of that (consideration).

"Dublin would have maybe 3,000. In general, people want comfort. Even in Croke Park the most popular stand is the Hogan Stand, where there are no concessions.

"There was a survey done a few years ago and the trend was people want seats, a bit of comfort."

Reynolds confirmed that the next meeting will consider all proposals.

"Laois could come and say, 'right if we beat Wicklow, we want the game in Portlaoise.' Or any county could come with whatever they want," he said.

"You ask any player in any county where they want to play and Croke Park is No 1. You ask any county, that's where they want to go.


"Counties do get serious grants and everybody is realistic about a full house or a decent crowd in Croke Park - 82pc in general of funds generated at national and provincial level finds its way back in club and county."

He cautioned that taking Dublin out of Croke Park for a game has financial consequences.

"Ultimately it would. Now, not in a once-off game as such, but it comes down to grants (Leinster distributed ¤9m in 2014).

"Any employment is protected, that's the nature of the business. But if counties want grants there will be less money to go around. That's a balancing act that counties have to make."

Reynolds said the ongoing venue debate could "focus some minds" about a 30,000-seater stadium in the province outside Croke Park but that discussion wasn't currently happening.

He said he didn't see feasibility in the time-frame suggested by the Gaelic Players Association for the completion of provincial championships under the terms of their proposals to revamp the inter-county season.

The GPA are suggesting that provincial championships be played over four weekends in April and May, with the finals over one weekend on May 14 and 15.

"A straight answer? No, it's not (feasible)," he said. "And hurling has to be considered, for the dual counties as well. Hurling wasn't mentioned in the plan, so where do you fit that in? April, May, June? To be frank about it, I don't see that as being practical.

"There is also U-21 at that time of year. Fair enough, if people want to lose that, it's another day's work. It's just too early.

"I would be pretty sure the counties wouldn't buy into it."

Wicklow investigation

An alleged incident which led to an umpire being knocked over a railing and kicked on the ground will be investigated at tonight’s meeting of Wicklow’s Competitions Control Committee (CCC).

Eyewitness reports suggest Hollywood referee Pat Dunne was attacked when acting as an umpire in a JFC ‘B’ semi-final after an on-field altercation turned into a “free-for-all”.

Dunne did not resume his umpire duty but referee Eddie Leonard issued no cards following the shemozzle as Newtownmountkennedy defeated Hollywood 0-11 to 0-10 in Laragh on Saturday afternoon.

Leonard’s referee’s report will be analysed while video footage of unsavoury events in both senior county finals will also be studied as the long list of disciplinary problems brings more unwelcome publicity for the Garden County.

CCC chairman Mick Hagan issued a stark warning about such episodes, “This cannot be tolerated in the county and we will certainly be taking stern action in all three cases if we find rules have been broken,” he said.

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