'This decision does not make sense to us' - Kildare refuse to participate in qualifier against Mayo at Croke Park
Kildare GAA have announced they will not be participating in their All-Ireland qualifying tie with Mayo after the GAA confirmed the game would be held in Croke Park and not at Kildare's home ground.
A statement released by the management committee of Kildare GAA said the decision 'does not make sense', and they announced they would not be attending in the game.
"Kildare GAA would like to explain the chain of events that has led to the CCCC announcing Croke Park as the venue for the All-Ireland SFC Round 3 Qualifier between Kildare and Mayo, and to state that the team will not be in attendance, as the game should be taking place at our county grounds, St. Conleth's Park.
"This decision does not make sense to us, as we have already hosted attractive Division 1 fixtures this year.
"And we are making it clear that we will not play this game in Croke Park. St Conleth’s Park is perfectly capable of hosting the tie on an all-ticket basis, Newbridge is perfectly capable of dealing with the number of supporters that will attend."
Kildare advanced through the qualifiers with away wins over Derry and Longford, and were drawn at home for the third round clash with Mayo. Manager Cian O'Neill described the decision to move the game as 'bewildering', and said his side should be given home advantage.
Statement: All Ireland SFC Series Round 3 Fixture ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/noK390802O— Kildare GAA (@KildareGAA) June 25, 2018
"We were drawn first out of the bowl, the rules clearly state that the first team drawn out has a home venue," O'Neill told RTE News.
"For the players in particular and most importantly for the fans in terms of the travel they've had to undergo over the last number of weeks to have that pulled from under your feet for no apparent reason, no reason that I'm aware of anyways that makes any logical sense or certainly factors players into the equation, which as I said is critically important, it's just bewildering.
"That's our home venue, we've earned it by winning our last two matches on the road and that's not going to be taken away from us."
The GPA have also released a statement backing Kildare's stance and calling on the GAA to move the game back to Newbridge.
"The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) is today calling on the GAA to immediately reinstate the Kildare versus Mayo Round 3 Qualifier game to the original fixture for Saturday evening at 7pm in St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge," the GPA said in a statement.
"It is unclear why the GAA is not sticking to its original decision* that the first team drawn would have home advantage. The GAA decision to move this game from its original venue of St. Conleth’s Park to Croke Park is unacceptable. Not alone is it unfair to the Kildare team but it is also unfair on the Mayo football panel who are now expected to make alternative travel arrangements having understood that the game was fixed for Newbridge.
"Changing the rules with regard to match venues at the 11th hour without any regard to the players affected is not fair or reasonable. Players deserve better and the GAA should respect their own rules in this regard."