Kettle: Dubs ride to rescue

DUBLIN County Board chairman Andy Kettle has claimed Anthony Daly’s hurlers saved the GAA’s bacon following the Leinster rugby team’s qualification for the Heineken Cup final on Saturday.

Kettle believes the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 final victory over Kilkenny, the county’s first piece of senior national silverware in 16 years, went a long way to subdue the amount of coverage given to Leinster’s win against Toulouse.

“In the context of the Leinster win on Saturday,” said Kettle, “if we hadn’t won on Sunday they would have had all the publicity in the world and the GAA in general would have lost out.”

In keeping with the need to build on hurling’s new-found popularity in the capital, Kettle is confident Dublin’s request to have their Leinster SHC quarter-final against Offaly on May 29 switched from Parnell Park to Croke Park will be given the green light.

Describing the idea as “a no-brainer” in light of Sunday’s result, the Fingal Ravens man is adamant demand would outstrip supply were the game to go ahead at the smaller venue.

The Leinster management committee meet tomorrow night where the matter will be broached.

Provincial chairman Martin Skelly confirmed they will discuss the matter “taking into account everything, such as health and safety and the national profile of Dublin hurling right now”.

For the Leinster Council, there’s also the financial attractiveness of moving the game from Donnycarney to Drumcondra.

However, Kettle wants to ensure everyone who wishes to watch Dublin’s hurlers get the opportunity to do so on May 29.

“Parnell Park is a small capacity ground, approximately 10,000. We had over 40,000 people at the games on Sunday. I know a good few of them were there for the U21 All-Ireland final but there were at least 25,000 there for the hurling final.

“Dublin supporters deserve to see these boys in action. I don’t know the logistics of it but moving the game to Croke Park now is a no-brainer for me.

“Even if Dublin hadn’t requested the game to be moved, I would be fairly certain Leinster would have looked favourably on the idea.”

There was a massive walk-up crowd of approximately 10,000 on Sunday, with several fans arriving late into the hurling final due to long queues outside the GAA’s ticketing office close to Croke Park.

Kettle believes the game against Offaly could be played as the main fixture in a double-header.

On the same day, Wexford’s hurlers face Antrim or Laois in the other Leinster quarter-final. That game is scheduled to be played in either Wexford Park (if Antrim win) or O’Moore Park (if Laois win).

“Regardless of whether you make the game all-ticket, people will still arrive at the venue without tickets, I’m certain of that,” he pointed out.

“I’m not saying they’ll come through Clontarf Golf Club (which is situated beside Parnell Park) to get to watch it but they’ll do almost everything in their power to see it.”

Kettle described Sunday as a just reward for the amount of commitment and financial investment put into the game by the county board as well as the supporters’ group, Friends of Dublin Hurling.

“We all know football is easily learned and played but kids love heroes and they got 20 new heroes on Sunday.

“They’re coming through the schools and the clubs now and they have a decision to make about which of our games they want to focus on.

“Fifteen years ago, hurling was probably dying in Dublin. A lot of hard work has been put in at club, development and county level and we’re seeing some of the results now.”

Meanwhile, Offaly wouldn’t be drawn on the possibility of the game being switched.

“We haven’t received the request as of yet but when we do we will give it due consideration,” said county chairman Pat Teehan.

Wherever the game is played, Dublin could well be without centre-back Joey Boland, who dislocating his shoulder during the second-half of Sunday’s game.

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