Dublin’s Ciarán Kilkenny says GAA could do more to promote the championship

Eight-time All-Ireland winner believes provincial venues would be a better fit for early rounds of the Leinster championship

Ciarán Kilkenny has conceded that Croke Park lacked atmosphere for Sunday’s Leinster SFC opener and that the game should have been played in opponents Meath’s Navan base.

An official attendance of just 21,445 – which also took in the earlier double header of camogie league finals – meant that three quarters of the stadium was empty for Dublin’s big quarter-final win.

Eight-time All-Ireland winner Kilkenny suggested that there would have been a ‘better atmosphere’ at Meath’s Páirc Tailteann which would have been full to its capacity of around 11,000.

Speaking as an ambassador for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, which takes place at the Aviva Stadium on August 24th, Kilkenny also criticised the GAA’s promotion of its championships and said they could “learn a few things” from how the American game is promoted and celebrated.


“There would probably have been a better atmosphere if the game was in Páirc Tailteann,” said Kilkenny. “We would have loved if the game was in Páirc Tailteann, just from an atmosphere point of view.

“I know Meath are a very proud footballing county and they have a serious tradition of playing football and I know they would be seriously disappointed with the performance they put in.

“It was very competitive in the first half but there definitely has to be something done in that regard. It went from a big attendance in Croke Park against Derry in the league final to 22,000 there on Sunday.

“I don’t know what needs to be done but I think we can do a lot more to promote the games.

“For me, being a schoolteacher and thinking of the bigger picture . . . like, as players you love to have the condensed season, you are playing games continually and you have more time with the club but I think from a promotional point of view in the GAA, the September All-Ireland finals were great for schools in terms of having a buzz there around the All-Ireland final. Everyone is back from their holidays.

“Look, I don’t know what needs to be done, I am not a decision maker but I do think there is more that we can do to promote the games in that sense.”

Asked if Sunday week’s double header of Leinster semi-finals, pencilled in as another Croke Park double header, should be broken up and played at two provincial venues, Kilkenny said he wouldn’t object.

“Yeah, 100%, I’d be open to it, to playing in any stadium,” he said. “Again, I reiterate that each player loves to play in different stadiums and to experience that.”

Georgia Tech will face Florida State University in an anticipated sell-out at the Aviva Stadium in August.

“I’d really recommend anyone to go to the match because the whole pageantry and entertainment, how they actually celebrate their game, it’s really amazing,” said Kilkenny. “We can learn a few things from how they celebrate their games.”

As for Sunday’s lukewarm performance from Dublin, in which they belatedly came alive in the second half to see off Meath by 3-19 to 0-12, setting up a Leinster semi-final against Offaly, Kilkenny said it was ‘sloppy’ at times.

“We were happy with elements of our performance in the second half and happy just to get the season up and running,” he concluded.