"As lads growing up we all had a desire to play in Croke Park" 1 week ago

"As lads growing up we all had a desire to play in Croke Park"

"All-Ireland finals, no matter what it is, if there's a possibility to play in the highest quality stadium you'd want to see the lads playing there."

Tomorrow evening at Páirc Seán MacDiarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon, Kildare will take on Tyrone in the u20 All-Ireland final, live on TG4.

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A monumental occasion, not just for the counties taking part, but in the lives of these young footballers who have worked so hard to get here.

The one slight blight on the whole thing is the fact that it's not taking place in Croke Park, the home of All-Ireland finals.

Paul Devlin, the manager of this wonderful Tyrone side, was speaking at an EirGrid preview event, admits that playing in Croker would have been great for the lads.

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"As lads growing up we all had a desire to play in Croke Park. That's a big input in keeping you playing football, you've coaches all through the years saying someday you'll have a chance to play in Croke Park.

"If they had that chance yes they'd make it and look forward to playing it. But it's not going to be here and there's nothing really we can do about it.

"When you look out and see the facility and the condition Croke Park is in, it would be perfect for the game. But full credit to Carrick they've taken it on, we're fully behind Carrick having the game.

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"We'll get on and get playing then, it's good for Carrick to get an All-Ireland final. Back in 2020 when we won Ulster they were intending on playing the two semi-finals there that time. When Covid came in all was put on hold. 

"It would be nice for the lads. Our lads didn't really know it was a possibility of playing in Croke Park in 2020, and they let them know after the game it would be in Croke Park so they were really delighted to hear that. 

"It is an All-Ireland final. All All-Ireland finals, no matter what it is, if there's a possibility to play in the highest quality stadium you'd want to see the lads playing there.

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"It would be nice for the lads to be there but it's out of our control it's out of the county board's control and we just have to go with what's put in place for us."

Kildare manager, Brian Flanagan, also believes that the game should be played in Croke Park, and even went as far as officially requesting that the game be payed there.

"From the players' point of view, they wanted to play in Croke Park so they asked us to try and get the match there. That's why we took the fight for 48 hours.

"But once the GAA made the decision on Monday morning and announced the game was in Carrick, our sole focus since then has been on winning this match in Carrick at the weekend.

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"We've no issue travelling or playing there. The venue issue, we fought it for two days but that's it. It's done, it's parked and it hasn't been a distraction whatsoever for the group. 

"You just have to park it. Once the decision was made that was it, we moved on. We're lucky that our group of lads are very composed, they're very mature.

"So when they expressed a desire, we fought the fight and we parked it and we've all moved on since."