Thursday 27 October 2016

Begley blasts Blues' venue

Laois star would rather face Dubs in Croker than Kilkenny

Laois star Colm Begley is unhappy with the choice of Nowlan Park
Laois star Colm Begley is unhappy with the choice of Nowlan Park

Laois footballer Colm Begley has hit out at the Leinster Council's decision to fix Dublin's opening championship defence next summer for Nowlan Park.

Begley believes the winners of the Laois/Wicklow SFC clash should have been awarded home advantage for their provincial quarter-final against the All-Ireland champions.

Speaking at Ireland's International Rules training camp in Carton House last night, the Laois veteran said he'd prefer to face Dublin in Croke Park rather than at neutral Kilkenny.

Leinster Council delegates voted 22-6 on Wednesday night to schedule the game for Nowlan Park, even though Laois officials argued vehemently for Portlaoise in the event that they qualified. It will be Dublin's first summer trek outside HQ in a decade.

"I'm disappointed," said Begley, arguing that "whatever team wins" between Laois and Wicklow should have home advantage.

"I haven't read the reasons why for it," he added, "but I'm surprised again why it needs to be changed for no apparent reason.

"I think we'd have enough (capacity) in Portlaoise to hold it if we do win our game, to hold a big enough championship game that will have a massive atmosphere, and I don't see why Laois should lose out or Wicklow should lose out."

In truth, Wicklow's home ground Aughrim was never a viable option - but Begley still offered an eye-opening perspective when asked if he would prefer to face the Dubs in Kilkenny or Croker.

"We don't get as many chances to play in Croker any more. It's the place you want to play in. People say about Dublin and the crowd, but I'd rather play in front of a big crowd than play down in Nowlan Park if it's not going to be our home ground. Might as well," he ventured.

"Nothing against Kilkenny's ground or anything like that, it's fantastic, but two teams now have to travel for no reason and we're supposed to have a home game or Wicklow are supposed to have a home game. I just don't see the benefit from it. And also for players, we like to play in our home ground," he concluded.

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