Dublin’s bid for a record 10 Leinster football titles on the trot will begin in Tullamore next May.
Dates and venues for the Leinster football championship have yet to be announced but the decision has been taken to send Dublin to O’Connor Park.
The five-in-a-row All-Ireland winners are scheduled to play Westmeath in the provincial quarter-finals on May 23/24.
The Dubs were taken out of Croke Park for the first time in a decade back in 2016, opening that campaign against Laois at Nowlan Park.
For the last three years they’ve begun their Leinster campaigns in Portlaoise, beating Carlow, Wicklow and Louth there.
Westmeath chairman Billy Foley had stated after last month’s draw that he wanted Mullingar to host Dublin next May but the 10,900 capacity venue isn’t deemed big enough.
Said Leinster Council chairman Jim Bolger: “Our policy for the last number of years is that other than Croke Park, we have identified Nowlan Park, Portlaoise, Tullamore and Wexford Park, should Wexford draw them, as suitable venues.
“That’s the policy and every county knew before the draw what the policy was.
“From a risk management perspective we have to be happy that the venue will be suitable for the potential crowd that we expect and we feel in this instance that Tullamore is the right place for it, in light of that policy regarding the four venues outside of Croke Park.”
Tullamore has a capacity of around 18,500 and is also seen as a short hop for Westmeath supporters with just over 30 kms between Offaly’s principal town and Mullingar.
“There’s an element of unpredictability there too,” said Bolger. “Dublin are going for a six-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles next year. You don’t know what sort of a new following they’ll have once they start that journey. So there is an element of unpredictability about what crowd they’ll have there but we’re still confident that Tullamore will give the patrons comfort.”
Bolger defended the decision to begin the O’Byrne Cup again in early December.
Kildare’s Kevin Feely hit out at the timing of the competition with the Lilies scheduled to play Longford on Saturday week and Wicklow seven days later.
“We put it to our council members last year and they went back to the counties and coming out of that was that they were very conscious of having the new year free and that the only way we could do it and have it played before the National League was to go back to December,” said Bolger.