Wednesday 13 November 2019

Home and away stats show there's no place like home for Dubs

Dublin manager Jim Gavin
Dublin manager Jim Gavin
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Dublin footballers will be the envy of all their rivals once they return from Celtic Park, Derry on Sunday night, having played their second away game in the Allianz Football League.

It leaves Dublin with just one more away league assignment – against Tyrone in Omagh on April 6 – before Jim Gavin's squad returns to home comforts for the rest of the season. Dublin's earlier away league game was against Westmeath in Mullingar last month which they won.

Dublin's use of Croke Park for home league games means that they could retain the Division 1 and All-Ireland titles this year off a 15-game programme, 12 in HQ.

Dublin had an even more advantageous run last year when Croke Park hosted 13 of their 15 league and championship games. They were due to have four Division 1 group games in Croke Park but Kildare agreed to concede home advantage. That gave Dublin a fifth home tie, followed by the semi-final and final which were also played in Croke Park.

All six of Dublin's championship games were also played in Croke Park. It means that Dublin could win two league and All-Ireland doubles in 2013-2014 while playing 25 of 30 games in Croke Park.

The league fixtures computer has again been kind to Dublin, handing them four of seven group games in Croke Park for a second successive season. They also had four home games in 2011 but were away four times in 2012.

The GAA insists that, where possible, counties are rotated on a 4-3 home and away league split on alternate years but that because of fixture-management cycles, counties can sometimes either have four home or away games in successive seasons. It's claimed that it balances out over a period of years.

Because of Dublin's drawing power, all their Leinster championship games are played in Croke Park, which also houses the closing stages of the All-Ireland championships.

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It all adds up to a privileged position for Jim Gavin's team, both from a playing perspective (their entire squad is accustomed to Croke Park as their home venue) and a financial viewpoint since the county board has much lower travelling costs than all of their rivals.

Next Sunday's clash with Derry will be Dublin's first against non-Leinster opposition in the league since drawing with Donegal in Ballybofey in the final round last year. They beat Kerry in Killarney on their only other away venture last season.

Irish Independent

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