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Thursday 20 September 2018

'The GAA has snatched away a fantastic event' - Kildare backing Croker boycott

Fans and businesses in Kildare have called for Saturday’s game to be played at St Conleth’s Park. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Fans and businesses in Kildare have called for Saturday’s game to be played at St Conleth’s Park. Photo: SPORTSFILE

It's a game of who will blink first between the Kildare County Board and GAA bosses.

In the Lilywhite county there is near universal support for boycotting Croke Park as the venue for the All-Ireland football round three qualifier against Mayo.

Fans, businesses and public representatives all want Saturday's game played at the 8,300-seater St Conleth's Park, Newbridge, in accordance with the home advantage the team were supposed to be awarded as the first to be drawn.

Cheated

"A typical league match would be worth around €220,000 to the local economy. We estimated that this was going to bring in €450,000," said Kildare Chamber of Commerce chief executive Allan Shine.

Business owners and locals feel they have been done out of an event, he added.

"When you take into account the Derby Festival to be held, businesses like bars, restaurants and cafes were expecting a bumper weekend this weekend," he said.

There is a lot of anger in the area, Mr Shine added.

"They feel this was going to be a fantastic event that has been snatched away by a few heads in the GAA," he said.

"The GAA brings a lovely atmosphere to the town. We are still optimistic that a solution can be found. The next 24 hours are crucial."

He was "100pc" behind the boycott.

"Of course, rules are rules and you have to play by the rules. It's quite clear Kildare should have the home advantage," he said.

The argument has not abated, but a decision by Kildare to cancel a press conference last night suggested efforts were ongoing to resolve the issue.

Broadcaster Sky Sports has said it had no input into the decision to hold the game as a double-header in Dublin, and said it will show both it and the Cavan/Tyrone game, regardless of where it is played.

Former Tyrone star Owen Mulligan has also weighed in, saying "the whole of Ireland" was behind Kildare.

Poll

Gillian Murphy, who runs the 15,000-strong Kildare GAA Fans page on Facebook, said the vast majority of the county's supporters back the boycott.

"I held a poll on the page and so far 92pc back it," she said.

"The GAA seem to be making things up as they go along. They said in advance that the first team out in the draw would have home advantage. That shouldn't change because of the second team out."

Kildare Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan said he believed the game should be played at Kildare's ground, but declined to comment on whether he supported the boycott of the game if it was held at Croke Park.

The GAA was not available for comment last night.

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