GAA open to further unrest on home venues for the Super-8s

Safety concerns at some grounds could lead to some counties losing home advantage

GAA committee backed down on its initial hard stance that Kildare couldn’t play at St Conleth’s Park after receiving extra assurances. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

GAA committee backed down on its initial hard stance that Kildare couldn’t play at St Conleth’s Park after receiving extra assurances. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

The GAA may have opened itself to further unrest when it comes to assigning home venues for next month’s Super-8 All-Ireland football quarter-final games. 

Under the new format, approved at last year’s congress, the eight teams are divided into two round-robin groups and are entitled to one home game apiece: however, according to the GAA rule on the matter, these “home venues shall be subject to approval by the Central Competitions Control Committee and shall meet the criteria set down by the National Facilities/Health and Safety Committee”. 

This has been highlighted after the committee’s original decision to fix Saturday’s round three All-Ireland football qualifier between Kildare and Mayo for Croke Park, despite Kildare being entitled to home advantage at St Conleth’s Park, on the basis that St Conleth’s Park didn’t meet health and safety concerns. 

The committee then backed down on that initial hard stance on St Conleth’s Park after receiving extra assurances from the Kildare county board and An Garda Síochána that upgraded traffic-management plans and stewarding would be put in place: the Newbridge venue was then approved on an all-ticket basis and with a capacity of just 8,200. 

Kildare could yet find themselves in that quarter-final stage, depending on that result against Mayo, and in the round four qualifier the following weekend against one of the beaten provincial finalists: with that, the question would arise again whether or not St Conleth’s Park would be a suitable home venue; other potential teams, such as Roscommon and Clare, may also face that health and safety concern when it comes to home venue, depending on the opposition. 

“Look, if Kildare do make it to the quarter-final stage, that’s an issue to be discussed then,” said the GAA’s director of communications, Alan Milton. “It’s possible that in the close season there will be more conversation around future championships, for example in Leinster – if the county doesn’t have a venue of 15,000, there are certain games they can’t host.” 

Croke Park round

Each of these eight counties will have three games apiece against the other teams in their group to reach an All-Ireland semi-final: the first round of games will be played at GAA headquarters, and not, as has been suggested, a neutral venue. 

“When the vote went to congress, most people would have known what the ramifications were for their own team,” added Milton. “That first round is not a neutral venue, but a Croke Park round, and if people want to change that, they will have to go back to congress.” 

Still, some managers have expressed unease at Dublin effectively getting two home games, Donegal manager Declan Bonner calling it an “unfair advantage” if Croke Park is considered their home venue. “I don’t think it has been thought out too much. It’s out of our control, but it’s disappointing,” he said. 

Former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has called on Dublin and the GAA to “do the right thing” and play one of their two Super 8 games away from headquarters: “I think it’s an opportunity for Dublin and for Croke Park to do the right thing and go the same as all the other teams,” he said.

The super-8s explained – as they currently stand:

The All Ireland Quarter-Final Group Stage shall be on a League basis of two Groups of four teams, with each team in a Group playing the other teams once.

Group 1       
Team 1: Kerry
Team 2: Galway
Team 3: Fermanagh/Round 3 winner
Team 4: Laois /Round 3 winner

Fixtures
Phase 1: July 14th-15th

Kerry v Galway
Fermanagh/ Round 3 Winner v Laois / Round 3 Winner
Venue: Páirc an Chrócaigh

Phase 2: July 21st-22nd
Fermanagh/ Round 3 winner v Galway
Laois/Round 3 winner v Kerry
Venue: First team listed will have home venue*

Phase 3: August 4th-5th
Kerry v Fermanagh/Round 3 winner
Galway v Laois/Round 3 winner
Venue: First team listed will have home venue*          

CCCC to confirm dates, times and venues on Monday, July 9th (after the Round 4 Games)

GROUP 2

Team 1: Donegal
Team 2: Dublin
Team 3: Cork/Round 3 winner
Team 4: Roscommon/Round 3 winner

Fixtures
Phase 1: July 14th-15th
Donegal v Dublin
Cork/Round 3 winner v Roscommon/Round 3 winner
Venue: Croke Park

Phase 2: July 21st-22nd
Cork/Round 3 winner v Dublin
Roscommon/ Round 3 winner v Donegal
Venue: First team listed will have home venue*

Phase 3: August 4th-5th
Donegal v Cork/Round 3 winner
Dublin v Roscommon/Round 3 winner
Venue: First team listed will have home venue*  

Tie-breakers
In the event of teams finishing on equal points in a quarter-final group, the tie shall be decided by the following means and in the order specified:

(i) Where two teams only are involved, the outcome of the meeting of the two teams in the group
(ii) Score difference – subtracting the total scores against from the total scores for.
(iii) Highest total score for
(iv) Highest total goals for
(v) A play-off

*Home venues shall be subject to approval by the Central Competitions Control Committee and shall meet the criteria set down by the National Facilities/Health and Safety Committee

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