Friday 23 February 2018

Galway chairman Larkin rules out Connacht move to Pearse Stadium

The GAA's Galway headquarters at Pearse Stadium will not be available to Connacht for Heineken Cup matches in the autumn should Eric Elwood's side finally make it into Europe's premier competition.

However, GAA bosses in Galway are not opposed to the 34,000-capacity Salthill venue being used at some stage in the future, but point out that it will require a decision at Congress to allow other sports be played at the venue.

Connacht are the only side in the Magners League not to have played in the Heineken Cup, but if Leinster defeat Northampton in the final of the competition on Saturday week, then Elwood's men will finally step up next season.

The Sportsground remains the poorest venue in the Magners League and while temporary stands have been installed in the past to host big games against the likes of Toulon and Harlequins, Connacht's lack of a suitable big venue has not been resolved.

Gerry Larkin, the chairman of Galway County Board, said that under present rules Pearse Stadium would not be available to Connacht if they required it, but he did not rule out rugby being played there in the future.

"At present it would take a decision by Congress before the way could be opened to play rugby. Congress will not take place until next April, although a special Congress could be called," he said.

"We have not been approached by Connacht or anyone else seeking the use of Pearse Stadium. It would have to be referred to Croke Park.

"Personally, I would have no problem with rugby being played there and most GAA people would have a similar view. There is a much more broad-minded approach to these things these days. It's not that long ago that it would have been unthinkable for Galway to be playing in the Leinster hurling championship or the Queen visiting Croke Park."

Meanwhile, Connacht full-back Gavin Duffy is the latest player to turn to coaching with the former Irish international appointed assistant coach to Galwegians.

Former Connacht and Leeds back-rower Colm Rigney has been appointed coach for next season, with Duffy named as his assistant.

Irish Independent

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