Páirc Uí Chaoimh may yet host more 2017 championship games beyond the All-Ireland senior hurling quarter-finals the weekend after next.
Football’s All-Ireland quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals as well as hurling’s semis and final will all be played in Croke Park.
However, GAA director general Páraic Duffy has not ruled out the revamped Cork venue staging a replay providing it is geographically suitable for the teams involved.
“A replay would be different and I’d imagine you’d go back to where you played. That’s not for me to say but you wouldn’t rule it out. There’s no decision taken as far as I’m aware. It would depend which one it was.
“Replays depend on who is in it, it depends on the teams. It depends on the pairings, but you would never rule it out. At the moment all that’s planned for Páirc Uí Chaoimh are the two quarter-finals, it’s a matter for the CCCC (Central Competitions Control Committee) to fix games after that.”
Duffy was at the stadium on Monday as it was examined by health and safety officers before being given the green light to host the Clare-Tipperary and Wexford-Waterford games on Saturday and Sunday week respectively.
Impressed by it, he confirmed the decision to split the games, which have usually been played as a double-header, was taken due to expected demand for tickets.
“We felt that if we played them on the one day you wouldn’t be able to accommodate all who wanted to go, so we didn’t want to take that risk. Because we are opening a new stadium, there’s a curiosity factor as well and people would want to see it.
“I think, in fairness to supporters, we divided them over two days, and I think it was the right thing to do because we certainly wouldn’t have been able to accommodate the crowd on one day, so it would have been very unfair.”
Duffy, though, accepts Wexford supporters will have the biggest difficulty in getting to their quarter-final.
“I understand that and absolutely appreciate that. We did discuss that. Geographically, it is not ideal and there will be traffic issues that will have to be addressed as well as possible. But because we are opening a brand new stadium, a great facility, the feeling was that we would go for the two games over the weekend.
“I think the supporters will understand that this is a very special occasion,” he said, before adding: “It is not too often that we have an opening of a stadium of this quality, I think that people will understand that as a once-off, that is fine.”
He did stress that Páirc Uí Chaoimh isn’t guaranteed to be the venue for next year’s All-Ireland quarter-finals. “It’s not a permanent arrangement. What happened was at the last Central Council meeting the CCCC recommended the quarter-finals be played there this year, and that was as far as it went. There was nothing decided beyond that. We are just looking at these two games at this stage.”
Hawk-Eye will in time be in operation in Páirc Uí Chaoimh but in the short term the company will supervise score detection technology at the venue for the quarter-finals.
“We are not using the HawkEye cameras — that’s the only difference. We just weren’t ready, those are high-speed cameras. There will be cameras, there is a score detection system and it will be powered by Hawk-Eye technology. That explains it as best as I can.”
Amendments to the proposed hurling championship restructure will be accepted by counties and provinces until Friday, but Duffy insisted the main plank of the format — two provincial groups of five teams — is integral.
A Special Congress will debate the final recommendation in late September.
“I think the hurling counties themselves, generally speaking, are in favour of the proposal. Now, will there be change? Yeah, there could be some tweaks but I honestly don’t know. We’ll know a bit better by Friday. It will be around these two fives, but that’s not accepting that’s the end of it. I can’t imagine anything else coming forward.”
On the notable jump in attendances, Duffy wasn’t getting excited: “If Cork and Wexford had a bad year next year the numbers would go down. This year the numbers have gone up, which is great, but I think we have to recognise that a lot of that is down to the fact that Cork and Wexford have driven the numbers up hugely.”
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