Páraic Duffy defends timing of Hyde Park switch

GAA director general Páraic Duffy has refused to criticise the decision-making which resulted in Roscommon’s Allianz Football League clash with Dublin being switched from Hyde Park to Páirc Seán MacDiarmada on the morning of the game.

A 9am pitch inspection deemed the Roscommon town venue unplayable and the Division One tie was moved to Carrick-on-Shannon.

Roscommon GAA chiefs apologised afterwards while Dublin boss Jim Gavin admitted that the timing of the announcement was a huge inconvenience for thousands of supporters from both counties.

But Duffy yesterday defended those involved in the decision making process.

“I feel in the circumstances, it was handled pretty well. I wouldn’t criticise Roscommon, our own CCCC (Central Competitions Control Committee).”

Duffy doesn’t believe calls on the suitability of pitches must be made on the eve of match days to avoid a repeat of what happened last weekend.

“You can argue that (should be done) but you can also argue would it have been fair to Roscommon to pull it out and then find it could be played on the Sunday?”

Duffy explained the pitch was deemed playable on Friday. Concerns were raised following a second inspection on Saturday before it was decided at 9am on Sunday to change venues. He said Roscommon’s determination to try and stage the game at their home venue was understandable but he also accepted the call to move the match to Carrick-on-Shannon could have been made earlier.

“The situation is there were concerns about the pitch during the week. The pitch was inspected on Friday evening and was absolutely playable. A lot of work had been done on it during the week and it was absolutely playable on Friday evening.

“Obviously, there were concerns about the weather forecast and what might happen at the weekend. It was inspected again by an inter-county referee on Saturday and there were doubts expressed (about it hosting the game). There was water on the pitch at that stage and it would all depend on what would happen overnight. And there was consideration given then to the venue being changed.

“Changing the venue was a big call because for Roscommon it was a huge match, to have the All-Ireland champions at home. They wanted to play the game at home, for all kinds of reasons. The local community wanted the game played in Roscommon and so on. So there was a doubt about it on Saturday and the decision was taken to inspect it again on Sunday and, again, it was inspected by an inter-county referee.

“The feeling was that it could have been played in Roscommon if it didn’t rain again but that was too big of a risk to take and the decision was taken at that stage to move it. I take the point, maybe the call could have been made sooner but from Roscommon’s point of view that was a huge call to make.”

Duffy said news of the rearrangement was relayed via a press release within minutes of the pitch being deemed waterlogged. Croke Park had contacted Iarnród Eireann about helping transporting people from Roscommon to Carrick-on-Shannon but they weren’t in a position to do that. The GAA then chose to organise buses.

Duffy also praised Leitrim GAA for hosting the game at such short notice.

“Leitrim doesn’t have full-time staff. They did a wonderful job getting it ready and the match to go ahead and I want to thank the volunteers in Leitrim who made that possible.”

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