GAA claim clash between Kildare game and Derby could not be avoided
Option of delaying throw-in to 7pm ruled out due to complications over Mayo-Armagh game
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday is scheduled for 5.20 – just 20 minutes after the start of the Kildare-Tyrone clash at nearby Newbridge. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
The GAA has insisted it wasn’t possible to delay the throw-in to the All-Ireland senior football qualifier between Kildare and Tyrone in order to avoid a clash with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on Saturday.
Ireland’s richest race is due off at 5.20pm, just 20 minutes after the throw-in to the football match in nearby Newbridge. It is the second year in a row the Derby has clashed with a Kildare football match although the controversial ‘Newbridge or Nowhere’ game in 2018 had a 7pm throw-in.
This time there is a direct clash and fears it could impact on attendance levels at the €1.5 million Classic which will be run for the first time at the revamped Curragh.
The Kildare v Tyrone match is part of a football double-header shown on Sky TV on Saturday with Mayo playing Armagh later in the evening at 7pm.
Racing officials have said the direct clash is disappointing and a headline in the trade newspaper, the Racing Post, described the GAA hierarchy as giving “two fingers” to the Curragh.
However a GAA spokesman stressed that moving the Newbridge game to a 7pm start instead wasn’t feasible.
“Very simply the Féile Peile na nÓg tournament takes place [in Connacht] this weekend and runs until Saturday afternoon. That complicates the availability of stewards, people hosting teams, coaching teams, and they wouldn’t be in a position to get to Castlebar for a 5pm game.
“It means that match has to be at 7pm. We also have to have Kildare-Tyrone on TV as from our point of view, because there’s only a capacity of 8,000 [in Newbridge] it’s a match that has to be on TV.
“So if you want it to be on TV it has to be at 5pm because the Mayo match can’t be,” Cian Murphy said.
He added that the GAA has a history of being flexible when it comes to switching times and dates to facilitate other sporting events but that it wasn’t feasible in this case.
“It’s not that we’re not interested but it’s about what best suits the GAA. Last year Cork-Limerick in the Munster hurling championship was originally fixed for June 3rd. A request came in that that clashed with the Cork city marathon and so we moved to June 2nd.
“If requests come in that we can facilitate then that can happen. It’s just that in this instance it wasn’t possible. We have to be fair to the people in Mayo,” said Murphy.
Suggestions that Sky – a partner in the ‘Attheraces’ channel that used to broadcast Irish racing until the end of last year when media rights switched to Racing TV – may have had a role in this weekend’s scheduling were dismissed on Thursday.
A spokesperson for Sky said scheduling decisions are for the GAA and stressed the broadcaster had no input into start times.
“We have no say over throw-in times. We are completely directed by the GAA on that. We don’t pick the times of the games. We just turn up and shoot whatever is agreed,” said Sky’s Sharon McHugh.
Murphy also insisted Saturday’s throw-in times were a GAA decision.
“TV companies will have their opinions about which games they’d like but it’s in consultation with ourselves and it’s what best suits the GAA,” he said.
In Derby news Aidan O’Brien is 8-1 to saddle a 1-2-3 in Saturday’s big race after Thursday’s final declarations saw him with five of the eight runners.
Madhmoon, runner-up at Epsom, will bid to give 86-year-old trainer Kevin Prenderegast a first Derby success while Dermot Weld’s Rakan and the Jim Bolger-trained Guaranteed will also line up against the might of Ballydoyle.