'It's ridiculous' - Kerry fans seething as racing on TV means late start for All-Ireland final replay
- The All-Ireland final replay is set for 6pm
- Kerry supporters expecting to arrive home after 4am
THE GAA have confirmed that Saturday's match was fixed for 6pm to accommodate broadcast schedules, with greyhound racing and horse racing taking place on the same day.
After the first thrilling encounter between the five-in-a-row chasing Dubs and Kerry, this Saturday's replay was fixed for 6pm in Croke Park.
However, Kerry supporters have been left furious by the GAA's decision to play the All-Ireland football final replay so late in the evening to accommodate the broadcasting of other sporting events.
Many Kerry fans will face a drive of up to five hours. Following the drawn game many Kerry supporters arrived home in the early hours of last Monday - and that game kicked off two-and-a-half hours earlier than the replay will.
Speaking to Independent.ie, many supporters from the Kingdom said that they were furious with the GAA's decision, which will see some of them only getting home around 4am.
Teddy McCarthy from Sneem in West Kerry will have around a five-hour drive ahead of him after he leaves Croke Park on Saturday, if the traffic is kind to him. He said that he worries about the safety of so many road users on the roads so late on a Saturday night.
"It will take four-and-a-half or five hours to get there," he said.
"It's a long drive and an awful nightmare putting it on this time of the night. It's not alway possible to stay in Dublin and it's very expensive. If you could get the accommodation, you''d be lucky.
"You have to look at the road safety issue as well putting all these people out on the road so late on a Saturday night. I'd be concerned about that. It's ridiculous stuff all together. Absolutely ridiculous.
"We're already a month early with the All Ireland than in the past, so you think it could have been held in a couple of weeks time on a Sunday. There's no reason why they couldn't accommodate everyone."
The 45-year-old, who will be travelling to the match with local councillor Johnny Healy-Rae, said that Kerry fans were not considered by the GAA when the fixture was planned.
"It's just absolutely ridiculous. Kerry supporters haven't been condsidered. It's upsetting and put me out. People coming out at eight or nine o'clock in darkness and then if they have somewhere to stay it's fine, but if they can't afford it they're on the way back.
"There will be coaches and buses from Dublin and they won't be getting back to Kerry until three or four o'clock in the morning and then a lot of them will have to get back into their cars and drive another bit.
"It's all over then by that time. It's totally inconsiderate and I'm disappointed and shocked with the decision they've made, but we can't do much about it only go with it. We don't have an All Ireland every week so we might as well go up for the trip."
Johnny Healy-Rae said he contacted the GAA in an effort to have the match changed to a more suitable time and was told that it was being played at 6pm because of programming clashes.
He said: "The reason for the late game is that RTÉ had another programme on the channel, but I can't understand it because they've two other channels for such an important thing."
The price of attending an All-Ireland final can really add up for supporters, especially those from Kerry who have to pay an extra €10 on top of their tickets for a mandatory county board raffle. Many of those wearing the green and gold said they would opt to stay in Dublin this weekend if it weren't for the cost.
Padraig Fogarty, from Filemore, Cahirciveen in West Kerry, said that while playing the replay in Semple Stadium or Pairc Uí Chaoimh would be fairer to Kerry supporters it wouldn't be fair to the players who dream of playing on Ireland's biggest stage.
"I wouldn't be against having the match in Thurles or Páirc Uí Chaoimh," he said, "but I suppose every fella's dream is to play in Croke Park and I wouldn't take that away from them. Without a shadow of doubt as well, I think Kerry play their best football in Croke Park anyway, but I would be against Dublin playing every one of their home games in Croke Park.
"In the Super 8s you're supposed to have a home, an away and a neutral game, and Dublin are the only team that has two games at home. In 2001 we played Dublin in the All Ireland quarter-final in Thurles and the game was held up for three-quarters of an hour because the Dublin supporters couldn't come down the Dublin road on time. It's crazy, like.
"The Kerry people have no problem going to Croke Park, we're well used to going there and it's a day out - but it should have been at two o'clock. I mean you have to leave at 11 on Saturday anyway, so it's not like you can get any work done on Saturday anyway."
Padraig, whose commute on Saturday with his son Aidan (10) will take over four hours, admitted that he would stay in Dublin if hotels were cheaper.
"I left the last morning to go to Croke Park at 6.10am and it was 12.40am by time I was home. It will take four hours to get up. I'm leaving Saturday morning at 11 o'clock and I presume I won't be home before three. I can't stay down because the last time I priced to stay down, it was too expensive.
"It's €78 for the train from the Kilarney, it was €100 for the ticket and the cheapest place I could get was all the way out at the Red Cow in Dublin and it was €150 for the night, so that was €330 so for myself and my wife Noreen to go it would cost me more than €500.
"It's ridiculous and they're putting on the match at six o'clock. That's crazy, there will be children falling asleep at the match and everything. That game should be on at two o'clock. I mean the Dubs can stroll out of bed at three o'clock and walk into Croke Park and they'll be home for eight."
GAA Director of Communications Alan Milton confirmed that the reason the final could not be played earlier was to suit RTÉ's broadcasting of the semi-finals of the Greyhound Derby and the Irish Champions Weekend in horse racing.
He said, however, that the match would have been played on a Saturday evening regardless of RTÉ's other broadcasting commitments.
"The only reason greyhound racing was referenced in comments made to the media this week was to provide a rationale as to why the game will commence at 6pm and not 5pm," he said.
"This is because of the long-standing commitments of our broadcast partners to cover other sporting events on the day, including the semi-finals of the Greyhound Derby and the Irish Champions Weekend in horse racing.
"Following the success of the 2013 hurling final replay involving Clare and Cork, the GAA’s Central Council took the decision to play all future final replays on Saturday evenings to avoid the need to move either the camogie final or the ladies' football final out of their planned slots at Croke Park to accommodate the replay.
"Finally, pushing the final back a further eight days to ensure a traditional Sunday afternoon slot would have caused further inconvenience and a longer delay to both the Dublin and Kerry club championships and the players and clubs in those two counties, which was something the GAA was keen to avoid."