Croke Park will have room for 60,000

 

Croke Park will have a spectator capacity of around 60,000 for Sunday week's All-Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Offaly. While the redevelopment work on both the Canal End and new Hogan Stand still remains somewhat behind schedule, this figure will be on a par with recent All-Ireland finals.

A section of seating in the lower tier of the new Hogan Stand was already in operation for last Sunday's football semi-final between Galway and Kildare. According to a spokesperson for Croke Park yesterday, it is expected that three-quarters of that tier will be available on Sunday week.

In addition, it is expected that a limited number of seats on the upper tier of the Canal End redevelopment will also be available. That should extend the current capacity of just under 54,000 to a figure close to 60,000. Last year, 62,989 attended the hurling final between Kilkenny and Cork.

Meanwhile, of the six inaugural Player of the Month winners announced by the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) yesterday, only Kilkenny's John Power and Armagh's John McEntee are still active in this year's championship.

The GPA awards, which were launched last May with a £130,000 sponsorship deal from the Carphone Warehouse, are the first such honours where the football and hurling players actually participate in the voting themselves. And although the voting is restricted to players who have signed up with the GPA, the awards can go to any player in the country.

The football awards went to Derry's Anthony Tohill for May, McEntee for June, and Dublin's Paddy Christie for July. In hurling, the awards went to Tipperary's John Leahy for May, Cork's Sean Og O hAilpin for June and Power for July.

McEntee, Christie and Leahy are currently members of the GPA, while Power, O hAilpin and Tohill are not. The monthly awards will continue up to the end of October, and the yearly awards will be made at a GPA ceremony in November.

For Leahy, this has been the championship which has rejuvenated his career with Tipperary - starting with the Munster clash with Waterford in May.

O hAilpin produced another of his memorable displays for Cork against Limerick in June, while Power's performance in the Leinster final against Offaly earned him the award for July.

Tohill's award came on the back of his National League final performance in May. McEntee was honoured for his key role for Armagh in the Ulster championship encounters with Tyrone and Fermanagh. Christie was also influential in Dublin's progress to the Leinster final last month.

The GAA management committee last night turned down Derry's appeal against the result of the All-Ireland minor football semi-final, thus assuring Cork of their place in the final. Derry had objected to the result on the basis that Cork had a player booked twice but not sent off.

Meanwhile, the inaugural All-Ireland Kick Fada will be hosted by Bray Emmets this Saturday. The objective will be to determine who is the best "long and accurate kicker" in Gaelic football, and among the intercounty qualifiers are Trevor Giles (Meath), Ciaran Whelan (Dublin), Anthony Tohill (Derry), Kevin O'Brien (Wicklow) and Philip Clifford (Cork).