Monday 20 May 2019

Here are six ways the Mexican standoff between Kildare and the GAA could play out

GAA director general Tom Ryan and Kildare manager Cian O'Neill
GAA director general Tom Ryan and Kildare manager Cian O'Neill

Cormac Byrne

It is clear that each passing hour without resolution to Kildare's row over the venue for Saturday's Round 3 qualifier is hurting the GAA. With an agreement nowhere in sight, here are six ways the controversy could play out.

1. Kildare turn up in Newbridge as planned and exit the Championship

This is the scenario everyone is desperate to avoid. Kildare turn up and tog out in their county ground while Stephen Rochford marches his men on to the turf at Croke Park.

The clock strikes 7pm and both teams are 60 kilometres apart shrugging their shoulders and Sky Sports are left to fill two hours of broadcast time.

Fergal McGill's threat comes to pass and Kildare forfeit the game and Mayo go into the bowl for next Monday's Round 4 draw.

The GAA is vilified for not following their own rules.

2. Croke Park break and the GAA agree that the game is played at St Conleth's Park

This turn of events has been complicated by the fact that the GAA have already put tickets for the game in Croke Park up for sale.

They would have to refund customers.

The 4,000 season-ticket holder eligible for entry to Newbridge avail of their tickets and the remaining 4,000+ tickets are distributed among Kildare and Mayo fans.

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Thousands of fans miss out on seeing the players trash it out in the flesh but the rules of the game are upheld and the GAA quell some of the anger that has been raging since Monday's fixture announcement from the CCCC.

Kildare look like the victors and give their side the best chance of upsetting the odds against last year's All-Ireland runners-up.

This storyline may need the intervention of new GAA Director General Tom Ryan.

3. Kildare break and play the game at Croke Park

Kildare lose their nerve and agree to play the game at GAA headquarters in return for compensation.

Kildare's abysmal record in Drumcondra continues and they lose to Mayo.

The county board, who were under fire after the defeat to Carlow, lose all the public support they have garnered and risk a serious upheaval at the end of the year.

Very few Kildare fans turn up for the game in protest.

4. Kildare lose their nerve and agree to the game at Portlaoise or Tullamore

Given the firm stance of the county board and Cian O'Neill, this looks like a remote possibility. It's Newbridge of nowhere.

If they avail of another opportunity to nominate another venue and look to play the game at another Leinster venue they will contradict everything if they have said over the last 48 hours and there will be uproar among Lilywhite fans.

5. Kildare go down the DRA/High Court route and the Championship is delayed

It appears as though the irresistible force has met the immovable object in this and this row may need an independent body to resolve it.

Top sports law professor Jack Anderson believes Kildare have a very strong case if they go to the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA), where he previously served as secretary.

Kildare can't appeal the CCCC's decision over fixtures but can go to the DRA with their gripe.

They could also apply for an injunction to the High Court.

Both eventualities are likely to delay the football championship with the Round 4 fixture due to be played on the week after next.

Kildare win and the game is played in Newbridge in a number of weeks time, they lose and the biggest controversy of the Irish sporting summer concludes. Either way, the GAA faces a major fixtures crisis.

6. Kildare agree to play the game in Castlebar for future home tie with Mayo

This is an idea postulated by Irish Examiner GAA correspondent John Fogarty on Twitter.

The game is played in Castlebar (where Mayo's record has been very patchy recently) on Saturday evening and an agreement is made that if the sides are drawn together in championship again, Kildare will have home advantage at an upgraded St Conleth's Park.

This is unlikely to appease Kildare who are adamant that the rules are followed and Cian O'Neill is not going to be in favour on ceding home advantage for what could be his final game as manager of his own county.

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