Dublin and Offaly to be all alone at Croke Park


GAA:THE LEINSTER Council have decided against fixing an additional championship match for Croke Park on May 29th to go with the change of venue for the hurling quarter-final between Dublin and Offaly.

As expected, this fixture was officially switched from Parnell Park to Croke Park at a specially convened meeting of the Leinster Council on Wednesday night – following a request from the Dublin county board – and although they explored the possibilities of a double bill, it has been scheduled as a stand alone fixture, at least for now.

The switch from Parnell Park to Croke Park was approved to accommodate the surge in demand for tickets in the wake of Dublin’s Allianz Hurling League triumph last Sunday.

The throw-in time of 2pm also suggests the possibility of an additional fixture, but according to Leinster Council chairman Michael Delaney, that was always the allocated time slot as the game had already been earmarked for live television coverage.

“At this stage it appears that if there is any additional fixture it won’t be an inter-county game,” said Delaney. “Maybe a club hurling league final, but it won’t be an inter-county match.

“And it was always fixed for 2pm, once it was scheduled as a live TV game. So that was the slot decided a while ago, whether or not Dublin won the national league.”

The 4pm TV slot that same day is the Munster hurling championship meeting between Tipperary and Cork, at Semple Stadium.

However a couple of fixtures had been mooted as possibilities for the double-bill with Dublin-Offaly that day: the other Leinster hurling quarter-final between Antrim and the winners of Laois and Wexford, scheduled for the same day, was one option. (That game is scheduled to be played in either Wexford Park if Antrim win or O’Moore Park if Laois win).

Also mooted was the Leinster football championship preliminary-round game between Offaly and Wexford, currently set for the evening before, May 28th, in O’Connor Park in Tullamore at 7pm – but both these options would appear to be ruled out.

“Well we’d have to have agreement of all those counties involved,” said Delaney, “and we just haven’t that at the moment.”

Either way some 30,000 spectators are expected to descend on GAA headquarters for the Dublin-Offaly game, in what will be Dublin’s first outing since being crowned league champions last Sunday, in front of a crowd of 42,030 – almost three times more than the 14,200 that attended last year’s hurling final in Thurles.

However, should Dublin beat Offaly, the possibility of hosting Galway in Croke Park for the semi-final is not an option, as three Take That concerts take place from June 17th-19th and that semi-final is down for Saturday the 18th.

Should it be a Dublin-Galway semi-final then the game is scheduled for Tullamore; should it be a Galway-Offaly semi-final the game is scheduled for Portlaoise.