Michael Cleary: Thurles should be permanent home of Munster final

Two-time All-Ireland winner Michael Cleary believes serious consideration should be given to cementing Semple Stadium as the permanent venue choice on Munster hurling final afternoon.

Michael Cleary: Thurles should be permanent home of Munster final

The Thurles venue will stage the July 12 decider between Tipperary and Waterford after Déise officials earlier this week indicated their preference for the game to be played in Semple Stadium ahead of the neutral Gaelic Grounds.

Former Tipperary hurler Cleary secured only one of his four Munster medals on home turf, but insists no venue compares to Thurles on Munster final afternoon.

Cleary accepts county boards would suffer financially from such a move and so proposes a sharing of the gate receipts between the two participating counties. “I believe there is a strong argument to play the Munster final every year in Thurles, to have Thurles set in stone as the venue for the decider at the start of every year,” he said.

“I know county boards and other officials mightn’t like that and they would probably lose out financially if Thurles got it every year, but perhaps they could share the spoils of the two counties involved.

“Every inter-county hurler wants to play at two venues: Thurles and Croke Park. Players see it as a treat to play in Thurles.

“That was the case before my time, during my time and will still be the case long into the future. Even to train in Thurles in the cold of winter is a treat.

“Thurles is a special venue and no disrespect to the other Munster venues here, but you cannot beat Munster final day in Thurles. It has the biggest capacity, the atmosphere around the ground and in Liberty Square is unrivalled.

“In Leinster, they play their provincial finals in Croke Park always, could that not be done for the Munster hurling.”

Cleary was not surprised at Waterford’s decision to opt for Thurles ahead of the Gaelic Grounds and doesn’t believe Eamon O’Shea’s charges will benefit from home advantage.

“From a purely logistical point of view it makes sense to stage this game in Thurles,” said Cleary.

“Waterford would have to travel through Tipperary to get to Limerick were the game to have been played there, so it makes sense to play the game in Thurles.

“I would have been amazed had the game gone to Limerick. I used to love going to Limerick as a child, but for some reason I don’t believe it has the same appeal as before.”

He continued: “Waterford have done all their good hurling in Thurles this summer.

“Traditionally, and going back to the last decade, Waterford did all their best hurling at Thurles.

“That is where they have made their name. I don’t believe it hands advantage to Tipperary.”

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