Sport Hurling

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Crowd surge forces Salthill stewards to open gates Gaelic games

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Hundreds gained free admission into Pearse Stadium for the opening round Allianz league match between Galway and Kilkenny when gates were opened to alleviate the swell of crowds outside as the match began.

Stewards were forced to open the gates as it became clear that the crowd would not be able to make it through the turnstiles in time to catch the start.

An official attendance was not available but informed estimates believe it could have been in excess of 9,000.

The fine day clearly brought more to Salthill than expected and there was also, Hurling Board sources said, communication earlier in the week from Croke Park's marketing department where the throw-in time was listed as 2.30.

This was communicated to schools as part of the match promotion but, in fact, the throw-in time was 2.0. Large throngs of people could be seen streaming onto the terraces and into the stands just after throw-in.

Galway won the match by three points, 3-11 to 0-17, but afterwards Galway selector Tom Helebert described the new sideline protocols as "not workable".

Helebert sat in the designated area in the stand and regularly moved down to the barrier to communicate with manager Anthony Cunningham and Mattie Kenny during the match.

He revealed how being wide open to comment and suggestions from the crowd was far from ideal in conducting their business and also pointed to potential communication difficulties.

"You are at the mercy of the crowd. We have an intercom system but on a noisy day you can't hear it. That happened in Croke Park, that's not going to change," Helebert said.

"You are at the mercy of every rogue in the place too who can't wait to tell you what you are doing wrong because you are sitting right in the middle of the crowd. I should have written it down today because there was some wonderful advice.

"So from a management process there are a lot of problems with it and, from a players' perspective, it is not workable either from a medical viewpoint. This does not have a basis where we can figure out where it is coming from," Helebert added.

Meanwhile, Brian Cody has stressed that the absence of a No 3 jersey had nothing to do with 'retiring' the number for the afternoon in honour of the recently retired Noel Hickey.

Cody said it wasn't something he was into as JJ Delaney wore No 29 instead.

Irish Independent

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