Capacity concerns and Galway and Mayo’s refusal to toss a coin for home advantage meant their All-Ireland SFC Round 4 game was fixed for the LIT Gaelic Grounds this Saturday evening (7pm).
Dr Hyde Park appeared to be the obvious choice for the game between the Connacht counties, but its capacity was capped at 18,870 last year pending refurbishment, and the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) expect that figure will be exceeded as the neighbours play their first knock-out game in 20 years.
The CCCC then offered Galway and Mayo the opportunity to play the game in Pearse Stadium or Elverys MacHale Park but both chose not to leave the venue down to luck. According to a CCCC official, both camps are happy with the choice of venue.
For Mayo, it’s a return to where they lost the epic All-Ireland semi-final replay to Kerry in 2014, a game which marked the end of current manager James Horan’s first spell in charge as he stood down soon after the extra-time defeat.
Regardless of who wins, it will be the first of two visits to Munster in successive weekends as the winners face Kerry in Fitzgerald Stadium in the opening Group 2 round in the Super 8. Mayo were yesterday awaiting the results of a scan on Lee Keegan’s ankle after he was forced off injured in Saturday’s Round 3 qualifier win over Armagh.
Also aiming for a Group 2 place, the victors of the Meath-Clare game, which takes place in O’Moore Park on Sunday afternoon, will oppose Donegal in Ballybofey also on July 13 or 14.
Beat Laois in Thurles on Saturday and Cork will travel to Croke Park to face Dublin in the first Group 1 round in the Super 8. Cavan and Tyrone clash in Clones’ St Tiernach’s Park on Saturday evening and the reward for the team that progresses is a slot alongside Dublin and Roscommon with their opening Super 8 fixtures away to Roscommon.
Meanwhile, both All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-finals have been scheduled for Sunday, Westmeath hosting Cork in TEG Cusack Park at 3pm and Laois taking on Dublin in O’Moore Park at 4.15pm.
Cavan v Tyrone, St Tiernach’s Park 5pm (B Cassidy, Derry) Live Sky Sports; Cork v Laois, Semple Stadium 5pm (F Kelly, Longford); Galway v Mayo, LIT Gaelic Grounds 7pm (J McQuillan, Cavan) Live Sky Sports.
Meath v Clare, O’Moore Park 2pm (D O’Mahoney, Tipperary) Live RTÉ.
Westmeath v Cork, TEG Cusack Park 3pm (P. Murphy, Carlow); Laois v Dublin, O’Moore Park 4.15pm (A. Kelly, Galway).
Kerry v Galway/Mayo, Fitzgerald Stadium; Donegal v Meath/Clare, MacCumhaill Park.
Dublin v Cork/Laois, Croke Park; Roscommon v Cavan/Tyrone, Dr Hyde Park.
Kerry v Donegal, Galway/Mayo v Meath/Clare, both Croke Park. Super 8, Group 2: Dublin v Roscommon, Cork/Laois v Cavan/Tyrone, both Croke Park.
Meath/Clare v Kerry (Páirc Tailteann/Cusack Park), Galway/Mayo v Donegal (Pearse Stadium/Elverys MacHale Park).
Cork/Laois v Roscommon (Páirc Uí Chaoimh/Rinn/O’Moore Park), Cavan/Tyrone v Dublin (Kingspan Breffni Park/Healy Park).