Hosting of college football game was ‘a risk that backfired’ admits GAA

Director General Páraic Duffy has released his Annual Report for 2014

Liam Ó Néill and Páraic Duffy in attendance at the launch of the annual report. this morning. Photograph: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Liam Ó Néill and Páraic Duffy in attendance at the launch of the annual report. this morning. Photograph: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

 

The uproar which surrounded the relocation of last summer’s All-Ireland semi-final replay to the Gaelic Grounds, facilitating the Penn State/UCF American football game in Croke Park, was a debacle which the GAA admit “embroiled them in controversy.”

Director General of the association Páraic Duffy wrote in his annual report released on Tuesday that the decision to relocate the Kerry and Mayo replay to the Munster venue was a risk which “backfired”.

“The decision to fix the Kerry versus Mayo All-Ireland football semi-final replay for Limerick, due to the non-availability of Croke Park because of the Penn State/UCF American football game, was greeted with indignation by many supporters – and especially by supporters of Mayo - and embroiled the Association in a major controversy,” he wrote.

“In the latter context, and when emotions are high, it becomes next to impossible to have one’s case heard and considered. Before making the case here, I have to acknowledge that we took a risk that backfired on us, a consequence of what proved to be an over-optimistic assessment of the unlikelihood of a replay.

“A decision made in the best interests of the Association ended up causing offence to supporters, an outcome that I very much regret. It is important, nonetheless, to outline here the reasons for the decision we took.

“The over-arching reason relates to the need for the GAA to continue to be in a position to fund its development. The strategy of bringing an American football game to Croke Park arose from the necessity to widen our funding base.”

Garth Brooks fiasco

Also contained within the report, available here, are details concerning the controversially cancelled Garth Brooks concerts last summer. Five of such had been scheduled for the Dublin venue only for Dublin City Council to decide against granting a licence for the event, due mainly to growing complaints from residents.

“Croke Park and the GAA felt let down by this whole process. Most people who followed the Garth Brooks affair found the decision to refuse a licence for five concerts incomprehensible. And they were right,” writes the GAA Director General.

“Consider the reality of what we all knew when the licence application for five concerts was submitted: DCC had created a legitimate expectation that a licence would be granted for five concerts; 400,000 people – 330,000 of our own citizens and 70,000 tourists from abroad – had paid a substantial sum of money to buy tickets; and the concerts were set to present the country with the gift of a massive economic uplift.”

“I (more than most) appreciate the sentiment that we have all heard and said enough about the Garth Brooks concerts issue; I would certainly prefer not to have to discuss it in my Annual Report,”

“At a hearing of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications on July 18th 2014, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of DCC, Mr Owen Keegan, acknowledged that, in early February, he had indicated to our Stadium and Commercial Director, Peter McKenna, that he would be supportive of an application for a total of five Garth Brooks concerts.”

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