Kettle frustrated as Spring Series plans stall

Dublin chairman Andy Kettle has criticised Croke Park for what he perceives as them dragging their feet on next year’s proposed Spring Series.

The county hope to organise their third year of league games at GAA HQ, starting with the footballers’ hosting of Division 1 champions Cork on February 2. However, Kettle is frustrated there has as yet been no decision made on the suitability of Newbridge’s St Conleith’s Park as a venue for Kildare’s Division One games.

Not only had there been speculation Kildare’s opener against Donegal would be the curtain-raiser to Dublin-Cork in Croke Park, butKettle revealed there is the possibility of the Lilywhites’ home games against Kerry and Tyrone also being undercard games to Dublin’s March fixtures with Mayo and Down, respectively.

With only one potential Dublin double-header (footballers v Tyrone, hurlers v Cork), the county board are reliant on Kildare coming on board with them for the three other possible dates. Having opened talks with Croke Park about the Spring Series in early October, Kettle is dissatisfied part of the Christmas market has been missed to promote the games. “The Spring Series is in negotiation at the moment but, to be quite honest, I am getting a bit frustrated. We expected maybe adecision on Kildare’s home games, which would have cleared the way for us to make some other decisions. But that has not been forthcoming and I would have to say that I am a little bit disappointed with the lack of activity from Croke Park because it is only there that it will happen or not happen.”

Kettle said it was unlikely Dublin would go ahead with the Cork fixture in Croke Park and instead stage it in Parnell Park if Kildare were to be given the green light for their home games in Newbridge.

“You would have to look at the potential numbers coming through the gate. If we were to go Cork, you would probably be looking at 20 to 25,000, and 25,000 would be max.

“25,000 inside in Croke Park would be very small. It looks to create an atmosphere and it doesn’t look the best. I know back here (in Parnell Park), you are talking about 9,000 but make it all-ticket.”

Although St Conleith’s Park’s capacity has been reduced due to health and safety reasons, Kettleunderstands why Kildare are determined to play their home games in Newbridge but knows Croke Park provides a viable alternative.

“If I was chairman of the Kildare County Board, that is the road that I would probably be going. But if the health and safety committee say that they can’t, well, then the obvious place for them is in Croke Park. Once we know what is happening, we can come to an agreement with Kildare financially and work it out but we’re being pushed back time-wise.”

Meanwhile, Kettle confirmed Dublin will be voting for the eight-team hurling divisional structure option at Saturday week’s Central Council meeting. However, he isconcerned there are several influential bodies who are proposing the status quo of 12 teams split into two groups of six remains. He is also fearful there will be counties entitled to a vote who won’t be as impacted by the outcome as much as the likes of Dublin.

“My understanding is that the CCCC (Central Competitions Control Committee), the central fixture planners, and the HDC (Hurling Development Committee) are recommending the six-team league (without quarter-finals).

“At the last Central Council meeting, most of the top-tier teams supported an eight-team grouping, so what happens at it? It’s democracy and it’s not democracy to a certain extent because you will have people voting at Central Council on this proposal and it doesn’t really affect their county teams.”


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