County mayors clash in semi-final venue row

THE ball hasn’t yet been thrown in, but already the first shots have been fired between Cork and Kerry in the battle for football supremacy — and the salvos have come from unusual sources.

A dispute has arisen between the two mayors of the respective counties after one of them sought support to have the All-Ireland semi-final played down south, and not in Croke Park.

The mayor of County Cork, Cllr John O’Shea, kicked off with an appeal to his Kerry counterpart to support his call on the GAA’s Central Council to have the match played in either Pairc Uí Chaoimh or Fitzgerald’s Stadium, Killarney. He was fairly sure that Kerry’s Mayor, Cllr Ted Fitzgerald, would run with it — but he got a bit of a shock.

“I wanted it played locally for economic reasons. Travelling to Dublin again is a very costly business, especially for families. Anyway, we’re always being told about the dangers of travelling on our roads, so why not cut down on the mileage as well,” Cllr O’Shea said.

“Semi-finals have been played outside Croke Park before. While we’re at it the people of Cork can’t understand why both of the county’s matches weren’t played on the same day last weekend, which cost a lot of people a lot of money.”

He also offered to toss a coin with the Mayor of Kerry to decide which side would have home advantage. However, Cllr Fitzgerald was having none of it.

“No matter who is in the semi-final it should be played in Croke Park because it is a more prestigious venue. I wouldn’t like to see the match played in another part of the country,” said the Mayor of Kerry, who hasn’t missed any of his county’s championship appearances at GAA HQ since 1958.

He added that Kerry supporters were used to the venue — which could be interpreted as a light-hearted dig at Cork supporters, whose footballers don’t appear there as often as those from the Kingdom.

Cllr Fitzgerald, who won minor and U-21 All-Ireland medals with Kerry in the 1960s, added that the minor team, due to play Donegal, should also be allowed to play the prestigious Dublin venue.

They also differed, naturally, on who will win. Cllr Fitzgerald paid a lot of compliments to Cork, but added that Kerry “would just shade it.”

Bantry-based Cllr O’Shea was more confident of Cork’s chances.

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