GAA claim possible 'animosity' between fans behind decision to move Kildare game to Croke Park

By Stephen Barry

The chair of the GAA's fixture-making committee has said that fears of "animosity" between supporters outside the ground were a factor in the decision to move the game between Kildare and Mayo to Croke Park.

Ned Quin, chair of the CCCC (Central Competitions Control Committee), said that due to 3,500 Mayo season ticket holders being entitled to a ticket, Kildare may have been allocated as little as 25% of the tickets for a home game in St Conleth's Park, Newbridge.

The GAA have quoted health and safety grounds as the reason for moving the round 3 qualifier. The committee believed there was a risk of supporters showing up without tickets and attempting to gain entry, Quinn said.

The Kildare County Board stated their belief that they were able to fulfil all health and safety criteria of the GAA and Gardaí. They insist they will not fulfil the fixture in Croke Park, as it's currently scheduled for on Saturday.

"The logic of the decision was that one could anticipate a crowd of 20,000 for this game and there was going to be 4,000 of those tickets on sale between the two counties," Quinn told OTB AM.

Ned Quinn

"To us, it meant that we should move the game out of that venue in the best interests of all spectators, both Kildare and Mayo.

"It's possible that Kildare supporters would have access to little over 2,000 tickets for a home game. If we were in that scenario, we would have other criticisms coming at the CCCC for not foreseeing that.

"People are eager to see their own county playing championship and it was a possibility that people would turn up seeking to get admission or buy tickets outside the ground, even though they would have known that tickets weren't available.

"The risk would be that people would get involved with other spectators, that's the risk.

"I wouldn't describe it as crowd trouble but there could be animosity shown to people who had tickets, if they couldn't get them and were claiming they were regular supporters of Kildare."

Quinn also asserted that the CCCC have the "ultimate responsibility" for deciding the venues, regardless of the rule for round 3 qualifiers stating that Kildare are entitled to home advantage.

Kildare refused to nominate an alternative venue when requested to do so.

"The CCCC has the authority that home venues shall be subject to the approval of the CCCC and all our grounds have a safety capacity," said Quinn.

"In that context, the information before our meeting yesterday was that the safety capacity for this game in Newbridge would be 8,000.

"Then, when one subtracts the numbers of season ticket holders entitled to a ticket for the game, this figure further reduces to approximately 4,500.

"We were faced with the option then, put these tickets on general sale online as we usually do or divide them equally between the competing counties.

"In either scenario, we felt that just over 2,000 tickets would become available to Kildare supporters as the vast majority of the season ticket holders are from Mayo - the figure is approximately 3,500.

"The meeting felt that such a situation wasn't tenable and could potentially lead to a substantial number of people without tickets turning up and seeking admission to the game.

"Once we decided that this wasn't tenable, it was the prerogative of Kildare to nominate an alternative venue. But Kildare declined to do so in this case, so the committee then decided to fix the game for Croke Park as a part of a double-header.

"Cavan also had to forfeit their home fixture but they were agreeable to this."

Cavan's Kingspan Breffni Park is currently undergoing redevelopment work. Their qualifier against Down last Saturday was played in the neighbouring Brewster Park in Enniskillen.

He also cited Waterford losing home advantage for their two home Munster Hurling Championship round-robin games as further precedent.

Kildare GAA stated they will not fulfil the Croke Park fixture on Saturday.

"We are making it clear that we will not play this game in Croke Park. St Conleth’s Park is perfectly capable of hosting the tie on an all-ticket basis, Newbridge is perfectly capable of dealing with the number of supporters that will attend," they said.

Manager Cian O'Neill reiterated this point on the RTÉ News last night.

"That's our home venue, we've earned it by winning the last two matches on the road, and that's not going to be taken away from us.

"Let's be fair about this. Stick to the rules that you created, stick to the draw that was made in the presence of the President of the GAA, John Horan."

Quinn said he was surprised by Kildare's reaction.

"I was somewhat surprised by what Kildare said but then you would expect a county wouldn't be happy with a situation like that. But generally counties accept the rules of the game.

"We'll have to wait and see. My hope is that the game will go ahead as fixed."

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