Cian O’Neill blasts call to move Kildare game

Kildare manager Cian O’Neill has hit out at the decision to move Kildare’s Leinster championship game with Wexford forward eight days, claiming he had not been consulted about the proposal.

The tie has been switched from May 29 to May 21 due to the Bruce Springsteen concert at Croke Park.

O’Neill’s remarks are at odds with GAA claims that all teams involved in the realignment — Dublin and Wexford hurlers have also had their game moved — were happy to accommodate the switch.

This is not the case according to O’Neill, who says that what he called “edict sent down to the county board” will have a negative impact not just on the Kildare footballers, but the domestic club fixture programme, which is an area the GAA at a national level insists is a priority.

“It’s very disappointing because there was absolutely zero consultation no matter what anyone says,” O’Neill told the Kildare Nationalist. I was never consulted.

“I’m hugely disappointed because the first thing I did when I got the job was to set about planning our season, right up to the All-Ireland final.

“Obviously that is ambitious but if the plan is there you can always work backwards as opposed to having no plan.”

Bringing the game forward means that the winning team will have a five-week wait to play a Leinster semi-final against Longford, Offaly or Westmeath, who will have had just a two-week turnaround.

“We had from the end of the league right up to our first championship game planned. Players were aware of it. All going well we would have been going from a quarter-final to a semi-final, and there is a huge difference in a four-week gap to a five-week gap.”

There will also be a domino effect on the club championship, which in recent years, has gotten under way on the second weekend in May. With Kildare in action a fortnight later, plans for a similar schedule will now be scrapped.

“There was a tentative schedule but now that needs to be revised because everything, club and county fixtures, have to work in tandem.

“Even if there were some solutions put on the table and we had some input into what would best suit, I would have been more happy with that, even if it didn’t go the way we wanted. At least then there would have been some consultation.

“This was basically an edict sent down to the county board apparently, and certainly sent down to me.”

O’Neill was coach of the Kerry team that played a replayed All-Ireland semi-final with Mayo in the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick in 2014, when Croke Park was unavailable due to hosting an American Football game, and the Moorefield man would have preferred an alternative venue to be found for this Leinster quarter-final.

He added that if financial concerns were at the centre of keeping the game at HQ, the affected counties should receive some remuneration, given that their preparations have been knocked off kilter.

“I’d prefer to play on that weekend, or even the weekend after, at an alternate venue because we had planned very scientifically, very methodically, between matches and a five-week gap in championship is exactly what the GPA and players have been giving out about for so long. Here we have just made a four-week gap a five-week gap. I’m not pleased at all.

“I would imagine the reason that they want the game in Croke Park is because they want the financial side of things to kick in and we are being discommoded because of it.

“We’re not happy.”


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