GAA rules out Philadelphia venue for 2018 Rules opener

The International Rules series is unlikely to open in Philadelphia later this year, as GAA officials have deemed the Franklin Field as unsuitable.

GAA director general Páraic Duffy

For some years now, the AFL has been keen on bringing the hybrid sport to the US as a promotional driver.

In November, GAA director general Páraic Duffy revealed that there was the possibility of staging the first test in the US prior to the second and final test taking place in Croke Park.

“They’re very keen on going to the States so we’re going to push hard on that and see if it’s possible,” he remarked in Adelaide following a meeting with the Australians. “The whole issue has been getting a venue in the US because of the size of American football pitches but there are a couple of things we’re going to explore and we said we’d try and tie this down before February.

“One of the possibilities — and it’s not ideal — is Philadelphia where there appears there might be a venue. The University of Pennsylvania — Franklin Field — is being suggested and I’m actually going to be in Philadelphia the week after next so I’ll take a look.”

Duffy visited the 53,000-capacity venue while on holiday before Christmas but as the playing surface is Astroturf it has been dismissed as a viable option.

AFL clubs, who are increasingly concerned about releasing their best players for the series because of the potential for injury, would also have reservations against the idea.

The ball returns to the AFL’s court and the onus on finding an appropriate Stateside venue falls on them. Should they fail to find one, it’s almost certain the two tests will be played in Ireland, with Páirc Uí Chaoimh likeliest to host the first test.

Joe Kernan’s successor as Ireland coach will be named by John Horan after Horan becomes GAA president at Congress next month.

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