O’Neill rules out moving venue for semi-final replay

GAA president tells Mayo ‘it’s in their best interests to get on with it and play the game’ in Limerick

Mayo manager James Horan wants the All-Ireland senior football semi-final replay to be staged at Croke Park and not at Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds.  Photograph: Donall Farmer / Inpho

Mayo manager James Horan wants the All-Ireland senior football semi-final replay to be staged at Croke Park and not at Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds. Photograph: Donall Farmer / Inpho

 

Despite objections from Mayo and several former players, GAA president Liam O’Neill is adamant this Saturday’s All-Ireland football semi-final replay will take place at Limerick Gaelic grounds.

The GAA have been heavily criticised for not having a contingency plan to keep Kerry versus Mayo in Croke Park. The stadium is hosting an American Football match between Penn State and the University of Central Florida on Saturday, while the following weekend is reserved in case of a draw between Dublin and Donegal in the other semi-final.

The outcry has focused on Dublin being kept in Croke Park no matter what and the decision by the GAA to host another sporting event during peak championship season.

O’Neill did state today that any future American Football games would not take place in August or September. The Croke Park pitch must be flipped back to its Gaelic football parameters in less than 24 hours to be ready for Dublin against Donegal on Sunday.

Stadium director Peter McKenna, Alan Gallagher and their staff have previous experience of such a time constraints having hosted international soccer on a Friday - Ireland versus France - before the rugby test between Ireland and Australia back in November 2009.

O’Neill stated that the Gaelic grounds capacity of 49,866 will be able to facilitate Mayo and Kerry supporters as replays traditionally attract a smaller attendance.

A crowd of 52,495 turned out for Sunday’s 1-16 draw.

Ticket prices have also been dropped from €40 to €30 for the stand and €25 to €20 for the terrace. A children’s ticket is €5.

O’Neill also rebuffed a comment by Tommy Carr on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the decision, taken well in advance, to move this replay to Limerick was politically motivated. And he rubbished the claim made by Mayo that Kerry have an unfair advantage due to their familiarity with stadium.

“The history of it is that people initially question, then they accept the decision and get on with it,” said O’Neill. “I’m sure that Mayo are long enough in the game at this level to know that it’s in their best interests to get on with it and play the game and qualify for the final and hopefully, for them, end their barren spell.”

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