Kenoy hails Central Council role in IRFU, FAI agreement

TOMMY KENOY, one of the chief advocates for amending Rule 42, has praised the Central Council’s role in yesterday’s historic decision.

The council gave the green light for Croke Park to be opened last December when, under the terms of the amendment passed at Congress last April, they were under no obligation to do so.

“Thankfully, Central Council agreed to go ahead and discuss the matter late last year, when technically there was no planning permission in for Lansdowne Road or there was no demolition started,” said Kenoy, who also praised the role played by Association president Sean Kelly.

That thumbs-up from Central Council last month was crucial as, with the FAI and IRFU under pressure to confirm fixtures in the coming weeks, it was imperative that the three sporting organisations could hammer out an agreement over the venue as soon as possible.

Though a hugely controversial and divisive issue over the last five years, Kenoy believes that Rule 42 and the playing of ‘foreign’ games at Croke Park will have no negative effect on the Association.

Though the French rugby team are likely to be the first visitors to Croke Park under the agreement, it will be the visit of their English counterparts some weeks later when the voices of the naysayers will undoubtedly be heard loudest.

“I always said, once the motion to change Rule 42 was altered at Congress, it would never be a major issue again,” said the Roscommon official.

“It is probable that there will be a proposal of some type in the future, maybe to play a Champions League game, but I honestly believe something like that wouldn’t cause a stir.

“Once the first few games are played in Croke Park and the reconstruction of Lansdowne Road is completed, this whole issue will never raise a whimper again. I’m convinced of that.

“I think we’ve seen a change of mind-set in the GAA over the years that this issue has been debated. We saw it in the close Congress votes before last year and we saw it in the polls that came out at different times.

“We always knew we were pursuing change on behalf of the majority of people in the GAA and on behalf of the majority of people in Ireland.”

Meanwhile, Fine Gael Sport spokesman Jimmy Deenihan yesterday welcomed the deal, describing it as a very good development for Irish sport.

“Fine Gael was the first political party to propose this arrangement and I wholeheartedly welcome the news that a deal has been struck,” said Deenihan, who won five All-Ireland medals with Kerry between 1975 and 1981.

“I am very proud of the GAA’s generosity in this agreement and I feel it should be recognised. I now look forward to seeing the world-class facilities at Croke Park hosting major matches on an international stage.”

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