Antrim left waiting over their right to play at Corrigan Park

Division Four side keen to host their qualifier clash against Kildare in west Belfast

Lenny Harbinson: the Antrim manager would like to see his side host Kildare at Corrigan Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Lenny Harbinson: the Antrim manager would like to see his side host Kildare at Corrigan Park. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Be careful what you fight for.

A year after claiming no surrender on their right to home advantage in the football qualifiers, Kildare are facing the prospect of some similar resistance from Antrim over their right to play at Corrigan Park. 

Their second round football qualifier on Saturday week has been provisionally fixed for the west Belfast venue, which according to Croke Park has a capacity attendance currently set at just 2,100. However this is subject to an inspection and safety certification, the result of which won’t be known until later on Wednesday. 

Should the Antrim venue be deemed unsuitable, it’s likely the game will instead be played as a double-header at Páirc Esler in Newry, along with the meeting between Down and Mayo. 

In the meantime, Antrim are making a case for the game to be played in Corrigan Park, currently home to the St John’s club, on the Whiterock Road in West Belfast, which once served as the main venue for Gaelic games in Belfast until the opening of Casement Park in 1953.

With Casement Park still closed for major repair and disputes over planning, Corrigan Park is the only other option in Belfast, even if the part of the ground is in some state of disrepair and currently without a covered stand. It had an original capacity of 5,000, cut back in recent years due to lack of proper maintenance. 

The GAA director of games administration and player welfare Feargal McGill confirmed to The Irish Times the current capacity of the Belfast ground has been set at 2,100. There is a meeting with the statutory authorities in Belfast to assess and agree on that on Wednesday, after which the venue will be confirmed. 

Antrim football manager Lenny Harbinson has already expressed his preference for the home venue, if possible, although it’s unclear yet just how much they will fight for it. Antrim’s home Ulster quarter-final against Tyrone was played in Armagh’s Athletic Grounds, as Corrigan Park was not deemed suitable for that game.

Despite a heavy loss to Tyrone, Antrim were one of the surprise packages of the first round qualifiers, beating Louth 2-16 to 1-11 in Drogheda. 

Deemed unsuitable

Kildare will still come in as heavy favourites, despite their 0-26 to 0-11 loss to Dublin in the Leinster semi-final. Last year manager Cian O’Neill was insistent their qualifier game against Mayo went ahead at St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge, despite that being originally deemed unsuitable on health and safety grounds. 

All but one of the seven second round qualifiers will take place on Saturday week, the other one on the Sunday, when Offaly will host Sligo in O’Connor Park.

 The Munster football final between Kerry and Cork will also be taking place on Saturday week, in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, while the Ulster and Leinster finals will be on the following day. The Munster final throws in at 7pm and will be live on RTÉ, the same time as Monaghan against Armagh and Down against Mayo, one of which is likely to fill Sky Sports’ Saturday night slot.

 Extra-time, if required, will be played in all qualifier games, and if still level, the winner on the day rule will apply, possibly making for a long evening in some cases.

Some concerns have already been raised in Mayo over the 7pm start to their game against Down in Newry, making for a seven-hour return trip, depending on which part of Mayo the supporters are coming from. 

Elsewhere Monaghan and Armagh will start at St Tiernan’s Park in Clones also at 7pm; at 5pm, Derry will host Laois in Owenbeg; at 6pm Limerick make the journey to Westmeath, while Clare will trek up to play the Division Four finalists, Leitrim.

All-Ireland SFC round two qualifiers
Saturday June 22nd

Antrim v Kildare, Corrigan Park, Belfast, 3pm *Subject to inspection and safety certification 
Longford v Tyrone, Pearse Park, 5pm
Derry v Laois, Owenbeg, 5pm
Westmeath v Limerick, Mullingar, 6pm
Leitrim v Clare, Carrick-on-Shannon, 6pm
Monaghan v Armagh, Clones, 7pm
Down v Mayo, Newry, 7pm

Sunday June 23rd 
Offaly v Sligo, Tullamore, 2pm

The Munster Council have confirmed that the tickets.ie/Centra/Supervalu allocation of stand tickets for the Munster senior hurling championship game between Tipperary and Limerick in Thurles on Sunday have now sold out. The remaining stand tickets remain with the participating county boards and in the unlikely event of these tickets being returned, they will be put on public sale via tickets.ie/Centra/Supervalu. Terrace Tickets for this fixture remain on sale with Limerick being allocated the Town End Terrace and Tipperary allocated the Killinan End Terrace. 

Stand tickets and sideline seats for the Clare versus Cork game have been allocated to the participating counties only while Terrace Tickets will remain on public sale via tickets.ie/Centra/Supervalu while stocks last. 

Tickets for the Munster senior and minor football championship finals between Cork and Kerry taking place in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday June 22nd at 7pm are now on sale via tickets.ie /Centra/Supervalu and through the participating county boards.

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