Tuesday 18 June 2019

You can't solve every scheduling problem for everyone - Horan

Horan: ‘Dubs have never complained where they have been asked to play’. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Horan: ‘Dubs have never complained where they have been asked to play’. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

GAA president John Horan has said the association will address all matters relating to scheduling of championship matches that have arisen in recent weeks.

But on the specific issue of Dublin gaining an advantage over their rivals with their greater familiarity to Croke Park, courtesy of the spring series which involved all 'home' league games being played there and their success in the play-off stages of all competitions, he said it was a debate he was reluctant, because of his background, "to get involved in."

"It all depends on which side you're coming from, and no matter what I say in that debate it's always going to be seen I'm going to say something with a bit of a shade of blue on my back," he said.

"So I'm going to leave that to others, but we will resolve any of those issues. You can't solve everything for everyone and you will get divergent opinions on things. So in that context, if we go for A or B, we'll never be seen to be totally right."

Horan was speaking at the launch of the All-Ireland football and hurling championships on the Aran Islands yesterday in the wake of controversy over Kildare not initially being fixed to play their home third-round qualifier in Newbridge and Donegal's challenge to having to play Dublin in Croke Park where the All-Ireland champions will have two games in the series.

"I don't think Donegal's real gripe is about Dublin necessarily playing in Croke Park, I think Donegal's probable frustration is the actual structure of the games that their first game is in Croke Park, I think that is part of their problem," he explained. "I think it's more the arrangement of the games, that their first game happens to be against a provincial champion.

"Some people are making that point, that maybe the provincial champions shouldn't play off against each other in the first set of matches, that they should all get a home game in the first set of matches.

"This is a debate that needs to be held. Look, I think Donegal felt they had to express a view on the matter."

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Horan questioned how Dublin's Croke Park 'advantage' has become such an issue.

"When has this developed? I would ask who is driving that perception.

"Dublin have been playing in Croke Park for a long number of years now and all of a sudden one issue over the 'Super 8s' has kicked all of this off," he said.

"They have been very successful in that period of time too and All-Ireland semi-final and finals are always played in Croke Park, as are National League finals. So the stats (74 per cent of all Dublin games in league and championship since 2011 have been played in Croke Park) are a little bit skewed.

"To quote one of Dublin's least greatest fans, Colm O'Rourke, the playing of Dublin matches in Croke Park benefit an awful lot of other counties in Leinster from the funding that's raised and the benefits they get from infrastructure grants and coaching. That's just one angle from a person who is not the biggest fan of Dublin.

"It depends who's creating that challenge, you're talking to the one man that did take Dublin out of Croke Park when I was chairman of the Leinster Council, and they've remained out of Croke Park.

"Dublin have never complained as to where they have ever been asked to play, so I'm quite sure if Dublin were fixed to play in Thurles Dublin would play in Thurles and they'd be the last county to complain.

"When Dublin (hurlers) were caught last year against Tipperary down there (in Thurles), Seán Shanley (Dublin chairman) spoke out but not in any strong manner. They went ahead and played the game, there was no protest even though that was listed as a neutral venue; they did play Tipperary in Thurles (qualifier).

The GAA are expected to confirm the remaining Super 8s times and dates in the coming days and Horan accepted it's something that could be done earlier.

"They are looking at that. I think that will be addressed in the next 48 hours and all of those fixtures will be laid out to you. I think they've been faced with a big challenge this year."

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