Monday 19 March 2018

Kildare stand ground over home qualifier in Newbridge

Goalscorer Tomás O'Connor
Goalscorer Tomás O'Connor
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

KILDARE have stood their ground and refused to give up their home advantage for Saturday's tough All-Ireland SFC qualifier against Tyrone, despite the fact that they have only an 8,000 capacity in Newbridge.

Last year the Lilywhites' home qualifier against Limerick was switched to Portlaoise, and there was speculation that health and safety concerns would again force them to concede home advantage for what is the plum tie of the third round.

It is believed that Portlaoise and Tullamore were suggested as alternative venues with greater capacity.

But Kildare secretary Kathleen O'Neill confirmed that they were not for moving. "From our point of view, we would always have said that no matter who was coming we were going to host it in Newbridge" she said.

"It will be an all-ticket game but so are all the championship games in Newbridge, so that wouldn't be unusual. We'd made it very clear all along that if it was home, it was home."

The capacity at St Conleth's Park was officially reduced to between 7,500-8,000 under last year's health and safety review, and there were 7,200 there when Kildare beat Louth last weekend.

The fact that the Lilywhites hosted Tyrone, in Newbridge, during the Allianz League this year probably strengthens their case.

The game is also being televised live by RTE, which will have some influence on the attendance, but it still looks likely to be a sell-out.

O'Neill said Kildare will monitor ticket sales during the week and let the public know by week's end if any will be on sale on the night.

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