Leinster football semi-finals to be played at Croke Park

Last time Dublin played provincial semi-final outside of GAA HQ was 26 years ago

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Dublin will play Meath and Kildare will play Westmeath in the Leinster Senior Football Championship after the teams were drawn live on the Sunday Game.

The games will be played at Croke Park on Sunday, May 15th, it has been announced.

Leinster Council’s late deliberations on a venue for the provincial football final were triggered by Sunday’s draw that paired champions Dublin with Meath and Kildare with Westmeath.

It is understood that of the three other counties, Kildare and Westmeath had indicated a preference to play any semi-final against Dublin at a provincial venue rather than Croke Park.


Meath’s first choice was for their own ground Páirc Tailteann in Navan but if that was ruled out, the county preferred to play the semi-final against Dublin in Croke Park rather than one of the alternative Leinster venues such as O’Moore Park in Portlaoise or O’Connor Park in Tullamore.

From the provincial council’s point of view the agreement comes as good news given that attendances at Croke Park tend to be bigger than those elsewhere.

The most recent Leinster football semi-finals played in normal conditions for crowds were three years ago in pre-pandemic 2019 when 36,126 were present for Dublin-Kildare and Meath-Laois. It is believed that even if played at separate venues in the province the same pairings would not attract a comparable crowd.

The last time Dublin played a provincial semi-final outside of Croke Park was 26 years ago as All-Ireland champions when the 1996 championship match against Louth was played in Navan before 15,000. Eleven years previously Dublin played an away semi-final against Offaly in Tullamore. That attendance was estimated at 25,000.

In the last century, provincial semi-finals were frequently played outside of Croke Park. The last time Dublin and Meath played a semi-final at a provincial ground was 42 years ago when Meath had home advantage in Páirc Tailteann, Navan for the 1980 championship, a match won 3-13 to 2-7 by Dublin.

The old rivals Dublin and Meath will meet after comfortable victories over Wexford and Wicklow respectively this weekend. Westmeath beat Longford and Kildare beat Louth to comfortably progress to the semi-finals.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times