Extra tickets for finalists

COMPETING counties in this year’s All-Ireland senior finals can look forward to receiving an extra 1,500 tickets each, but the general allocation to counties will be reduced by approximately 5%, the GAA’s Central Council has agreed.

Director-general Liam Mulvihill revealed that while the demolition of the Nally Stand will result in the loss of 2,200 stand tickets, they would gain roughly this number in Hill 16 through being allowed to increase the capacity beyond the ceiling of 79,500.

At the request of Croke Park’s management committee, Mulvihill said he was recommending that competing (senior) counties receive an extra 1,000 Hill 16 and 500 stand tickets each. This was accepted by delegates, as was the overall minimal reduction.

Mulvihill pointed out that when the Northern (Hill 16) end is completed, the overall capacity will rise to 82,500. Meanwhile, in two years time there will be a reallocation of 5,500 term tickets in the lower section of the Cusack end.

Meanwhile, Tipperary hurler Eamonn Corcoran came close to having his three months suspension overturned by Central Council at the weekend. It’s understood the decision to reject an appeal against the severity of the suspension failed by just a single vote.

And there was good and bad news for some of the players who appeared before the GAC on Saturday.

Clare captain Sean McMahon received a four weeks ban after his sending-off in the championship game against Clare. But Tyrone defender Gavin Devlin was suspended for three months following the incident involving Colm Parkinson in the National League final.

Derry footballer Conleth Gilligan received a four week term following his dismissal in the drawn game against Tyrone. Cork footballer Fionan Murray, sent off two weeks ago in the championship game against Limerick, has yet to have his case dealt with by the committee.

At Saturday’s Central Council appeal, Corcoran was accompanied by county chairman Donal Shanahan, former chairman (and current Central Council delegate) Con Hogan and county secretary Michael O’Brien. He declined to comment on the outcome afterwards other than to indicate he was resigned to taking it on the chin.

O’Brien said that while they were pleased to have received a hearing, they were still disappointed at a personal level for the player.

“We got inside the four walls of Croke Park and we are thankful for that,” he said. “We felt this should be debated in Croke Park and not in the media. We accept the decision. We are, of course disappointed, but that’s it, end of story, we move on.

“Three months for any player at this particular time of the year is very severe. He misses the league final and the Munster championship and his club could be out of the Tipperary hurling and football championship by the time he returns.

“We put our case and got a fair hearing. There was a vote and it was a close decision, we understand.”

Kerry chairman Sean Walsh expressed concern about the adoption of the rule at Congress which sets aside suspensions during December and January. Pointing out that a number of their divisional championships were decided during these months, he said implementation of the rule could cause problems. He cited the example of a player striking a referee and being allowed play the following Sunday.

Gerry Brady pointed out that this had been a problem in Dublin for the last few years, describing the rule as “a farce”.

Sean Kelly, officiating at his first meeting of the council since his election as president, said all they could do was to “look at the rule and see if anything could be done”.

Kelly defended the decision to appoint Ciaran McDermott (Sligo) vice-chairman of the GAC in the event of any matters relating to Kerry being discussed by the committee.

Cork delegate Bob Honohan said he would have every confidence in the impartiality of GAC chairman Tony O’Keeffe, adding that the decision could be interpreted as a criticism of former chairmen.

Responding, the president said he had discussed the situation with O’Keeffe and he “had been happy” with the decision.

It was also announced that the under-21 championships are to be sponsored for the first time. The sponsor will be named in a week or two and will be a significant agreement over four years, said the director-general.

*Delegates agreed unanimously that next year’s Congress should be held in Killarney, while accepting a decision that it would be impractical to hold a Congress in Scotland.

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