Spring Series set to be abandoned

Thu, Dec 6, 2012, 00:00

The popular Croke Park Spring Series is to be abandoned unless agreement can be reached within the next week, and with that all Dublin’s home games in both football and hurling would return to Parnell Park.

Dublin county board chairman Andy Kettle has expressed his frustration in trying to agree a schedule of games for the upcoming Allianz Leagues: for the past two seasons, Dublin have staged a number of successful double-headers in Croke Park, but it’s not proving as straightforward this time.

Part of the problem is that Dublin’s footballers and hurlers are only on the same ticket for one Saturday night, March 16th, when they face Tyrone and Limerick respectively, but Kettle was still hopeful that the football league could start off with a Croke Park double-header on Saturday, February 2nd, featuring Dublin against Cork and Kildare against Donegal.

That’s because Kildare are still trying to agree a capacity for their home games at St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge, currently capped at 6,000 for health and safety reasons, although Kettle accepts it’s in Kildare’s more immediate interest to keep their games at home.

“I would have to say as well that I am a little bit disappointed with the lack of activity from Croke Park,” he says, “because it is only there that it will happen or not happen. We started to talk to Croke Park in early October. I’d probably rather not comment on why they haven’t agreed yet.

“From Kildare’s point of view, they are quite entitled to play at St Conleth’s, and if I was chairman of the Kildare county board that is the road that I would probably be going. But if the Health and Safety Committee say they can’t play there, well then the obvious place for them is in Croke Park.

“Once we know what is happening we can come to an agreement with Kildare, financially, and work it out, but being pushed back time-wise, we are going to miss the Christmas market from a ticket sales point of view. So we would need to know at the latest by next week.”

The prospect of Dublin going it alone with Cork on opening Saturday is unlikely. “But for the last couple of years, from Allianz’s point of view, it has been a huge boost to their sponsorship . . .

“And from Croke Park’s point of view, from a tickets sale point of view, it seems to be win-win all the way.

“But unless you get an opportunity to do it right, it frustrates you. It is coming to the stage where we have to make a decision, one way or the other.

“We would love to play in Croke Park. I would imagine the opposition would love to have the experience of playing in Croke Park, because maybe they wouldn’t get it later on in the year.”

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