Mayo’s appeal against Limerick replay venue likely to be turned down

Mayo’s request for next Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final replay with Kerry in Limerick to be postponed and held in Croke Park seven days later is unlikely to be entertained by the GAA.

Mayo’s appeal against Limerick replay venue likely to be turned down

Mayo manager James Horan confirmed the Connacht county’s intention to appeal the Gaelic Grounds venue and date after yesterday’s epic draw, labelling the move away from HQ for a game of such import as “bizarre”. The unusual situation has been prompted by Croke Park’s hosting of next Saturday’s American football college game between the University of Central Florida and Penn State. The second semi-final between Dublin and Donegal takes place the following day.

“I think it’s bizarre,” said Horan of the situation, “5pm playing in Limerick doesn’t make any sense, but we will play wherever. Once we are on a football field we are on a football field, but it doesn’t make any sense.”

The American football game, dubbed the Croke Park Classic, has been written in the schedule for over a year now and it is hoped it will establish a regular supply of gridiron action at the venue with the financial boost all that would imply. Yet the inability to cater for Kerry-Mayo at the flagship venue was already coming under fire last night even if Horan’s alternative — playing a football semi-final at HQ less than 24 hours before the hurling decider in Croke Park — is hardly ideal either.

“It’s an unusual one alright,” said Kerry boss Eamon Fitzmaurice. “At this stage of the summer we love coming to Croke Park. We love playing in Croke Park. The players love coming up here. Even small things like logistical issues now: will we go the night before? We never go the night before to Limerick [so] we probably won’t. A 5pm game is something that is slightly different so it will probably have a bit of an unusual feel to it.”

Both managers ultimately expressed the sentiment they would get on with things regardless of where the game is played, but the move away from Croke Park gives rise to what the GAA will hope is a moot point. Andy Moran scored a point for Mayo yesterday that was signalled wide and overturned by Hawk-Eye. There is no Hawk-Eye in Limerick or any other venue outside of Croke Park.

Mayo have little experience of the Gaelic Grounds, although Aidan O’Shea, Rob Hennelly and Kevin Keane were members of a Mayo minor side that saw off Kerry in a semi-final replay there in 2008.

Kerry, obviously, would be in more familiar territory.

“It will be a different thing going to Limerick, but we have been there before,” said Fitzmaurice. “I don’t think it’s going to be that much of a difference or that much of an issue. It’s a big pitch in Limerick. It mightn’t play as big as Croke Park, but it’s a big pitch as well. Hopefully we’ll be able to maximise that.”

Right now, Mayo will be planning to do without wing-back Lee Keegan who was sent off for kicking out at Johnny Buckley in the first-half. That, too, will be appealed.

Horan confirmed: “The way I look at it is that he was being held on to and it was like a shrug to try and shake him off more than a kicking action. I’m not blaming the ref or anything like that but, to me, if we are getting red cards for that the game is going down.”

With so much conjecture over what may come to pass, it would be all too easy to gloss over what came to be yesterday: a beguiling, brilliant game of football that bubbled towards a crescendo before descending into the purgatory of a draw. Horan reflected that when asked if he thought Mayo had the job done after Moran sent over that disputed score with ten minutes to go to leave the Connacht champions cradling a five-point lead.

“I thought we had it lost there as well though with Bryan Sheehan lining up [to take a free] there at the end. We probably should have won it, we could have lost it, but overall we’ll take what we got and look forward.”

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