Cooney hopeful Hill 16 barriers will come down

Cooney hopeful Hill 16 barriers will come down

GAA President Christy Cooney is hopeful that the barriers on Hill 16 will not remain there for too much longer.

Brought in as a safety feature to prevent pitch invasions last year, the barriers could be removed if spectators continue to adhere to requests not to enter the field after finals at Croke Park.

Cooney feels that keeping the crowd off the field is of benefit to everybody.

“If you look at the Allianz Hurling League final and see the reception the Dublin team got when they went around the pitch after the game, it was tremendous – that’s what we want to see,” he says.

“I think the days of pitch invasions being a concern at Croke Park are nearly gone.

“I would hope that in the next year or two and I think [President-elect] Liam O’Neill would be positive about this, that we would in a position to take down the barrier that exists in Hill 16.”

Should such a move prove successful at GAA headquarters, Cooney foresees a scenario where the rest of the county takes its cues from Croke Park.

“Hopefully they’ll succeed because there’s the same danger at provincial matches for players and spectators as there are at All-Irelands.

“We want it to be a safe and welcoming pitch environment for everyone and would hope there’ll be no pitch invasions at any county ground.

“And I would hope that would happen and I would hope that what has happened in Croke Park would spread to our provincial games as well because it's about spectators enjoying the game, but also enjoying the success of their teams afterwards and being able to thank them.

“I also feel it's very important for the players. What an occasion it was for the Dublin hurlers to be able to go around with the cup and to do it in a healthy, safe environment and they all go off the field comfortable, knowing they had won a great league final and that they were thrilled with the occasion and able to bring the cup to their fans.”

In addition to praising the way in which the Dublin hurlers were able to celebrate, Cooney welcomes their league win.

“We all knew the Dublin hurlers were coming,” he says, “the question whether they’d be able to the next step to get to top level, and they proved that they have a formidable team and panel.

“I think it’s a massive lift for the Leinster championship, it gives it tremendous momentum.”

The president does not envisage the enlargement of the top tier of the hurling league, however, despite calls from established counties in Division 2.

“I was at Ennis for the Division 2 final between Limerick and Clare, I thought it was a tremendous second half, I really enjoyed it.

“It’s always good to have that little crock of gold at the end of the rainbow for teams wanting to come up to Division 1 and I personally wouldn’t be for change.

“I think it’s great to have the ambition to want to come up and what I don’t want to to do either is downgrade Division 2 and not have the standard of games there for teams to be able to improve.”

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