Dublin’s hurlers and footballers could be taking centre stage in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day in future, if the All-Ireland club championships are wrapped up in the calendar year.
GAA President Liam O’Neill floated the suggestion at yesterday’s launch of the Allianz hurling leagues in Belfast.
O’Neill hinted that if a move is made to complete the All-Ireland club championship in one year, then Dublin’s county teams could be the immediate beneficiaries.
“If the club championships finish in the one year then the ideal situation would be Dublin would play the All-Ireland champions in both codes on St Patrick’s Day,” he revealed.
“If they are the All-Ireland champions themselves, then they could play the league champions.
“That would certainly give them an extra game in Croke Park. The stadium would be open for extra promotion on St Patrick’s Day and Dublin could avail of it.”
Michael Carton expressed disappointment at yesterday’s launch that there will be no Spring Series for the Dublin hurlers this year.
The success of the Allianz league double-headers in Croke Park last year was, he believes, an important step towards their capture of the Leinster SHC title for the first time in 52 years.
At the launch yesterday, the All Star nominee shrugged when asked if the Dublin hurlers are annoyed at their absence from headquarters.
“It was decided that we’re back in Parnell Park, I don’t know why,” said Carton. “Now we love Parnell Park, and there will be a good atmosphere for our games there, but everybody wants to play in Croke Park.”
O’Neill explained the absence of the Dublin hurlers from Croke Park this spring is simply down to scheduling.
“There are a number of factors, but clearly there is a commitment by Dublin to the use of Croke Park where possible, and there is clearly a commitment from Croke Park to get Dublin to use Croke Park wherever possible for hurling and football.
“Sometimes the fixtures work out and sometimes they don’t.
Meanwhile, Antrim’s league attendances could double this year by playing in the north coast’s hurling heartland of Ballycastle, according to team captain Neil McManus.
The redevelopment of Casement Park means that Antrim are on their travels, starting with Sunday’s Division 1B match against Wexford.
“I think there are a lot of Antrim fans in north Antrim who traditionally wouldn’t have travelled to Casement Park, but they will be in Ballycastle in their droves.
“Our Belfast support will travel anywhere and I think they will be in Ballycastle too, so I think you could see double the attendance.”
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