Saturday 16 December 2017

Galway to consider U-21 final boycott over venue row

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Galway's clubs will meet tonight to discuss the ongoing furore over the choice of Semple Stadium as the venue for the All-Ireland U-21 HC final on Saturday against Tipperary.

A meeting of the Galway Hurling Board last night sought to convene the opinions of the clubs in emergency session after the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) confirmed by letter that Thurles had been chosen as the "fairest" venue for the match.

Galway believe that asking them to play a national final at the home venue of their opponents does not represent fairness.

"To say that we were very disturbed and disappointed by it would be the understatement of the year," hurling board chairman Joe Byrne said last night.

The prospect of boycotting the final has not been ruled out, with some hardliners in the county of the opinion that such a stand should be taken after the CCCC refused to yield.

"Nobody is in the business of not turning up for finals and we have to take cognisance of that. We're in a damned if you do and damned if you don't scenario," Byrne said.

Byrne had been of the opinion over the weekend that the venue would be changed after a meeting with GAA director general Paraic Duffy in Athlone on Friday. But GAA president Christy Cooney refuted suggestions that they were ready to reverse the decision.

"I don't know where he got that from. Paraic Duffy and I don't make the decision. The CCCC make the decision and we fully support the decision that they make," he said.

"If we're asked for an opinion, we give an opinion. But we don't dictate to CCCC in any circumstances where games should be played. That's their job. I'm very happy with Thurles as a venue."

Pressed on whether choosing Thurles was giving Tipperary an advantage, Cooney said the same could be said of Dublin at Croke Park.

"We've put a massive amount of money into Thurles, it's recognised as our second stadium and as a hurling stadium. We're likely to play our U-21 hurling finals in Thurles for the foreseeable future. Counties have to recognised that."

Byrne said the letter from the CCCC stating that the nine members who selected the venue on August 30 felt Thurles was the "fairest" choice was "bizarre carry-on that I'm certainly not used to".

Meanwhile, Liam Kearns, Gerry Fahey, Peter Warren, Pat Fallon and Frank Doherty are among the names being touted for the vacant Galway football manager's job, the deadline for which closed yesterday.

Irish Independent

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