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Kildare will not appeal decision

KILDARE have bowed to the inevitable and will not be appealing Croke Park's call to fix next Saturday's SFC qualifier against Limerick at neutral Portlaoise instead of Newbridge.

Lilywhite GAA chiefs have also said they would be "totally surprised" if the decision of the Central Competitions Control Committee was in any way linked to a backlash against Kildare's criticism of how the GAA handled the Seánie Johnston transfer saga.

County board chairman John McMahon initially gave a furious reaction last night to the news that the CCCC had moved Saturday's round three qualifier to O'Moore Park because of fears that St Conleth's Park, with its reduced capacity, would not be able to host the game.

But after discussing the matter last night, the Kildare board has decided against any 11th hour venue appeal.

"Is there any point in bringing it any further?" McMahon said on radio today. "The CCCC have made their decision, and were very clear in that decision in that the game was not going to be fixed in Newbridge.

"There are some things you can fight and some things you can't fight. The decision has been made," the chairman conceded.

McMahon added that their “primary focus” now was on getting their senior footballers prepared for the task of tackling Limerick on Saturday.

McMahon pointed out that their Newbridge venue has seen its capacity cut to “around 8,000” on health and safety grounds, but they had been confident they would be able to accommodate supporters next weekend.

“We have played big matches in the past, and without any inconvenience,” he said.

However, the CCCC was convinced that Newbridge would not abe able to house all those supporters wishing to attend the game. It’s estimated that as many as 9,000 Kildare fans travelled to Cavan for last Sunday’s high-profile qualifier, which attracted 14,558 for Johnston’s Lilywhite debut at his former home ground of Breffni Park.

Asked today if he believed there had been any “backlash” to Kildare over the transfer saga involving the Cavan native, McMahon insisted: “The Seánie Johnston affair is finished. The transfer has been approved by Croke Park. He has played for Kildare. That is dead in the water.”

He then added: “I would be totally surprised as to why that would be used as a backlash, and I would be surprised if that was a reason for it.”

McMahon had been less conciliatory last night, expressing disgust at the decision. “For teams and supporters it's not about gate receipts or the size of gates, it is about your team getting through to the next round,” he was quoted as saying.

“Getting a home draw helps greatly with that, so it's hard to see how anyone can vindicate taking that advantage away from us.”

All-Ireland SFC qualifiers Round 3
Semple Stadium: Tipperary v Antrim, 3.0.
Killarney: Kerry v Tyrone, 5.0.
Portlaoise: Kildare v Limerick, 7.0.
Carrick-on-Shannon: Leitrim v Laois, 7.0. SUNDAY, JULY 29
All-Ireland hurling quarter-finals
Semple Stadium: Cork v Waterford, 2.0; Kilkenny v Limerick, 4.0.