Sunday 17 December 2017

Comment - Dublin are right to be seething over being forced to concede home advantage

The job of plotting Tipperary's downfall was going to be tough enough on Ger Cunningham without having to do it in Thurles
The job of plotting Tipperary's downfall was going to be tough enough on Ger Cunningham without having to do it in Thurles
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Money and spectacle has once again trumped fair play and the spirit of competition in the GAA.

Dublin have been put at a huge disadvantage be being told they must beat the All-Ireland champions Tipperary in Thurles to prolong their summer.

Dublin county chairman Sean Shanley described it as an 'insult to Dublin' but it also devalues the Championship. Adding to an underdogs uphill challenge is hardly in the interests of the game.

Who said the Round 2 games have to be played as a double-header? The last time Tipp were involved at this stage of the championship in 2014, they played Offaly in Portlaoise and Wexford played Waterford in Nowlan Park.

The fact that the 2017 qualifiers involve some of the biggest names and team in the sport seems to have convinced the CCCC that they need a blockbuster double-header. Equitableness has taken a back seat.

Read more: 'It's an insult' - Dublin anger over Thurles Tipp clash

The argument will be made that there is nothing in the GAA rulebook to say that the games should be played at neutral venues but that would be meek and self-serving reasoning.

Dublin are a young side and unlike the other teams involved next Saturday, they have limited exposure to Semple Stadium. Had Tipp drawn the Deise, you could argue that Derek McGrath's side are accustomed to the surrounds in Thurles and would not fear Michael Ryan's men there.

I can already hear the naysayers... 'Croke Park would be home advantage to the Dubs'. I don't think that argument holds any weight. Parnell Park is where the hurlers from the capital feel most at home and where they are hardest to beat.

Eddie Brennan made the argument on The Sunday Game that if the games were played in Croke Park that Kilkenny and Waterford fans would not travel in the same numbers. That's their choice. If they don't wish to travel to the finest ground in the country to see their team go to battle, they are free to watch it on TV, listen to the wireless or wait over 24 hours for a five-minute highlights package.

Ease of access for fans and the proximity of Thurles to competing counties is another consideration but a level playing field should eclipse these.

True fans would prefer to see combatants meet on an equal footing and the cost of travelling further to attend the games pales in comparison to the cost for the sport.

The GAA claims to espouse an amateur ethos and a dedication to fair play but this decision flies in the face of that.

Making sporting decisions based on logistics will always favour one side over another.

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