Saturday 16 December 2017

It shouldn't be all about the money

Eamonn Sweeney

Wexford footballer Aindreas Doyle caused something of a stir during the week by resurrecting the old argument that Dublin enjoy an unfair advantage by playing all their championship games in Croke Park.

"I think last year Dublin played 14 games, and 11 of them were here between league and championship. That'd be unheard of in any sport. If Kerry played 11 of their 14 games down in Killarney, we'd probably be seeing Kerry win the All-Ireland every year. It has to be an advantage and it's not right," said Doyle who plays his club football in the capital with Parnells.

Doyle suggests that this anomaly occurs because, "there's huge monetary conditions attached to it and the GAA are making massive money when Dublin play here," and he's probably right.

There is an argument to be made for keeping Dublin in Croke Park and it's because the All-Ireland champions draw such a large support, most provincial grounds wouldn't be able to fit them all in. There's nothing wrong with ensuring that everyone who wants to attend a match is able to do so.

But there also seems to be an idea out there that the GAA are entitled to keep Dublin in Croke Park because of the potential gate receipts alone, something which seems contrary to the spirit of the championship. The structure of a competition shouldn't be dictated by financial considerations but recently this seems to have happened on occasion.

It appears, for example, that the Connacht Council want to play the forthcoming football final between Mayo and Sligo in Castlebar even though Sligo are entitled to have the game played at a neutral venue. The reason given for this is that a bigger crowd would come to McHale Park than to the other possible venues, Pearse Stadium and Hyde Park. However, in effectively turning the final into a home game for Mayo, the Connacht Council will be skewing the odds massively in favour of the favourites. It's hardly fair.

The proposal that the Munster Football Championship scrap the open draw, thus virtually guaranteeing Cork-Kerry finals in perpetuity is also being mooted at the moment. Once more, financial considerations are the driving force. That none of the weaker counties in Munster will ever manage to repeat Clare's famous 1992 provincial final victory if they have to beat both Kerry and Cork in the same championship campaign doesn't seem to bother the advocates of seeding one jot. That's not fair either.

It shouldn't be all about the price tag.

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