Dublin and Donegal semi-final to take place at Kingspan Breffni Park

GAA announce fixtures and times for football league playoffs

Dublin and Donegal will play their Division One semi-final at  Kingspan Breffni Park. Photograph: John McVitty/Inpho

Dublin and Donegal will play their Division One semi-final at Kingspan Breffni Park. Photograph: John McVitty/Inpho

 

It is ironic that the Allianz Football League Division One semi-finals should bring together Dublin and Donegal. The counties agreed to play at a neutral venue rather than toss a coin for home advantage – an issue that the Ulster county brought to congress two years ago in a motion to prevent Dublin having two All-Ireland Super 8 fixtures in Croke Park.

This was after querying the matter before playing Dublin in the 2018 Super 8 at Croke Park on the grounds that no county should be able to nominate the stadium as their home venue.

The motion was unsuccessful and any possible reform or rethink hasn’t been possible in the last two championships, which have been pandemic-reduced to straight knock-out.

The match to be staged in Kingspan Breffni in Cavan will awaken memories of the league quarter-final 29 years ago between the counties, which Donegal dominated until the closing stages when Dublin replacement Vinnie Murphy came in and was instrumental in two goals in the closing 90 seconds.

This match had a major resonance, as the counties would meet for the first time in an All-Ireland final the following September. It had the dual impact of convincing Donegal manager Brian McEniff that Dublin were beatable, whereas its dramatic finale had the opposite effect on their opponents, who took the view that the Ulster men would never beat them.

Both of the current managements were involved. Declan Bonner didn’t start but would line out in the All-Ireland final, whereas his Dublin counterpart Dessie Farrell and his current understudy Mick Galvin both played.

It is also the first time that Dublin have played five away fixtures in succession between league and championship since 1990 and that sequence actually began in Ballybofey when Donegal defeated them 1-10 to 0-9.

Bonner did start that day and kicked three points. The other matches were playoffs against Armagh (Drogheda) and Roscommon (Portlaoise) followed by a Leinster quarter-final against Louth (Drogheda) and the provincial semi-final against Wicklow in Newbridge.

On Monday the GAA has released full details of the fixtures for the Allianz Football League playoffs in two weeks. Venues were decided on the basis that any team who had played away twice in their regulation matches could have home advantage if playing a team that had played just one of their three matches away.

Galway manager Pádraic Joyce was extremely critical of this after losing to Dublin on Sunday when it became clear that his team would have to travel to Clones to face Monaghan in a relegation playoff.

Monaghan were drawn to have just one of their three matches at home but that was stripped from them as punishment for breaking Covid regulations on training.

“They’re telling us it’s away because we had two home games and they had no home games, and now they’re being rewarded for breaking a Covid curfew,” he said. “I find that unbelievable, to be honest. It’s a joke if you ask me. I don’t know how Croke Park came with that solution of playing in Monaghan.”

Croke Park have explained that Monaghan paid their penalty by having to play Armagh in Enniskillen and that their other matches were away from home, in Omagh and Ballybofey.

“The league has to be seen as a continuous competition,” according to one official. “This isn’t a venue advantage for a relegation playoff but part of a four-match series, which brought the teams to this point. No team will be promoted or relegated purely on the outcome of one game. It’s the culmination of four games.”

The matches will be played on the weekend of June 12th and 13th.

If there was no such disparity, a coin toss would decide. Counties in three of the fixtures agreed to play at a neutral venue rather than risk an away venue: Dublin v Donegal, Cavan v Wicklow and Derry v Limerick.

The Division Four shield match between Sligo and Wexford was fixed for Portlaoise, as the counties hadn’t played the same number of matches due to the southern group missing London, who weren’t able to travel for fixtures.

The shield was introduced partly to give the third county in Division Four South a minimum of three matches, which will be the case for Wexford. The draw intended that the winners of Wexford-Leitrim would play Sligo in a Shield final on the weekend of June 19th.

Under the regulation that no league finals can take place a week before a county’s championship match, Sligo weren’t going to be able to play that match, as they face Mayo in the Connacht championship the following weekend. Leitrim agreed to step aside and let one match between the other two counties decide the outcome.

Allianz Football League playoffs

Saturday, June 12th
Division One semi-finals

Kerry v Tyrone, Fitzgerald Stadium, 5.0 [TG4]
Donegal v Dublin, Kingspan Breffni Park, 7.15 [TG4]

Division Two relegation playoff
Down v Laois, Páirc Esler, 6.15 [GAAGO]
Cork v Westmeath, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 2.0 [GAAGO]

Division Three semi-finals
Derry v Limerick, Carrick-on-Shannon, 4.0 [GAAGO]
Offaly v Fermanagh, Bórd na Móna O’Connor Park, 6.0 [GAAGO]

Division Three relegation playoff
Cavan v Wicklow, Páirc Tailteann, 2.0 [GAAGO]

Division Four semi-final
Carlow v Louth, Netwatch Dr Cullen Park, 4.0 [GAAGO]

Sunday, June 13th

Division One relegation playoff
Armagh v Roscommon, Athletic Grounds, 3.0 [GAAGO]
Monaghan v Galway, Clones, 3.45 [TG4]

Division Two semi-finals
Clare v Mayo, Cusack Park, 1.45, [TG4]
Kildare v Meath, Newbridge, 2.0 [GAAGO]

Division Three relegation playoff
Longford v Tipperary, Glennon Bros Pearse Park, 3.45 [GAAGO]

Division Four semi-final
Waterford v Antrim, Fraher Field, 12.15 [GAAGO]

Division Four shield final
Sligo v Wexford, Portlaoise, 3.0 [GAAGO]

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