Sunday 17 December 2017

Garth Brooks may force Dublin fans to hit the road

Garth Brooks at Croke Park. PHOTOS- JOHN DARDIS
Garth Brooks at Croke Park. PHOTOS- JOHN DARDIS

Jackie Cahill

LEINSTER Council officials may ask All-Ireland champions Dublin to play a provincial senior football final replay in Thurles this summer.

It has been confirmed that Croke Park will not be available for a potential Leinster SFC final replay towards the end of July, because of the Garth Brooks concerts scheduled for GAA HQ.

And the idea of switching to Thurles or Limerick was mooted at a Leinster Council Competitions Control Committee meeting on Tuesday evening.

The unique scenario will only arise, however, if holders Dublin reach the Leinster final on July 20 – and the game ends in a draw.

That would leave the Sky Blues facing the prospect of playing a match away from Croke Park for the first time since 2006, when they beat Longford at Pearse Park.

The weekend of July 26/27 is pencilled in for a Leinster SFC final replay, but Brooks is in Croke Park over the course of that weekend for a series of sell-out gigs.

And rather than take a money-spinning replay to a provincial venue, Leinster top brass would be prepared to bring Jim Gavin's men to Thurles or Limerick to cope with the attendance.

Semple Stadium and the Gaelic Grounds are the venues that will be considered and not even O'Moore Park in Portlaoise would be deemed big enough to cater for Dublin's massive travelling support.

CAPACITY

With a capacity of 53,000, Semple Stadium is the preferred choice in Munster, with the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick capable of holding almost 50,000 fans.

Leinster Council officials are considering asking Semple Stadium committee chairman Con Hogan to keep the Thurles venue on standby as it is the closest venue in Munster for Dublin supporters to access.

Leinster Council CEO Michael Delaney confirmed: "It (replay) won't be in Croke Park anyway – I can confirm that. Croke Park closes down on the evening of our Leinster football final on July 20, and work begins ahead of the Garth Brooks concerts."

He added: "We're exploring all options, within the province and outside.

"We'll go wherever we can best accommodate supporters. If Dublin are not in it and it ends in a draw, we would be confident of hosting a replay within the province.

"But if Dublin are in it, and up against Meath or Kildare, we have to be realistic then and talk to our friends down in Thurles. The Dubs have been there before."

In 2001, Dublin played Kerry twice at Semple Stadium, in a drawn All-Ireland SFC quarter-final and subsequent replay.

Irish Independent

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