The chairman of the Semple Stadium committee, Con Hogan, insists it would have been dangerous to stop Limerick supporters from flooding onto the sideline in the closing stages of Saturday’s All-Ireland U21 hurling final.
By the 58th minute of the contest Limerick fans occupied every blade of grass on either sideline at Semple Stadium, forcing match stewards and gardaí inside the whitewash in a bid to keep fans from encroaching on the pitch.
The several gates dotted along the fence in front of the Kinane Stand were opened by match stewards when the “push” came on from Limerick supporters in the closing minutes and Hogan believes there could have been a health and safety risk had stewards attempted to restrain people from making their way onto either sideline.
“In cases like Saturday evening, you can only assess the situation as you see it and when the push came on it would have been dangerous to try and restrain people and keep them from crossing the fence onto the sideline. You don’t want to keep people pinned in when that push comes. You have to compromise and let them out.
“The fence in front of the Ryan Stand is so low that it is easily crossed, but the fence in front of the Kinane Stand is chest-height so the gates were opened.”
Croke Park aside, Hogan said it is nigh-on impossible for GAA grounds to prevent scenarios such as that which materialised on Saturday evening.
“The security in Thurles on Saturday evening ensured no people came on the field at half-time in the main game and that no one came on the field after the B final.
“But when you have such a large volume of people coming together at once, it is impossible to stop them. Outside of Croke Park, this is a problem in every stadium around the country.
“You look at all the recently constructed stadiums in the UK. They all have low fences enclosing the pitch. You have to have a facility whereby spectators can easily get onto the pitch in case of an emergency.”
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