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'Take the Dubs out of Croker' - Cavan boss Graham wants neutral venue for semi-final

Graham feels crowd absence doesn’t make it necessary to play semi-finals at GAA HQ

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Cavan manager Mickey Graham. Photo: Sportsfile

Cavan manager Mickey Graham. Photo: Sportsfile

Cavan manager Mickey Graham. Photo: Sportsfile

Cavan football manager Mickey Graham has questioned the need to stage their All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin on Saturday week in Croke Park when crowds are not a factor.

Graham said his preference would be to play the game at a "neutral" venue and not a venue that is like "their own back garden", such is the familiarity the All-Ireland champions have built up there.

The man behind Cavan's first Ulster football success in 23 years feels a switch of venue would "level the playing field a small bit", though his plea is likely to fall on deaf ears because, at the outset, the GAA made it clear that Croke Park would be used for All-Ireland semi-finals, irrespective of travel or overnights.

Graham acknowledged their task is going to be difficult enough without the venue presenting such a potential "disadvantage".

An All-Ireland football semi-final has only once been held outside Croke Park in the last 37 years when Mayo and Kerry went to the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick for their replay in 2014.

"With the year that is in it, no crowds allowed in, is there a need to go to it, that's my point?" he said.

"Would a nice neutral venue, somewhere different for a change, be any harm? For Dublin, that's like their own back garden, they are so used to playing there.

"A lot of our lads would never have been there before, it's a first time for them and it's a huge experience for them and it's definitely a disadvantage for us," he suggested.

"I'm sure we would like to play it in a different venue. For us to go to Croke Park itself the task is going to be huge, so it would be nice but the powers that be will decide that."

Neutral venues suitable to both Cavan and Dublin are few and far between. Páirc Tailteann in Navan no longer has floodlights which rules it out for an evening throw-in.

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