Cian O'Neill says Kildare players will be in Newbridge on Saturday night
Cian O'Neill and the Kildare team don't plan on playing in Croke Park this weekend.
It was announced on Monday that the Cavan vs Tyrone and Kildare vs Mayo round three football qualifiers will be held in Croke Park this Saturday 30 June. This raised a lot of eyebrows considering the rules dictate that the first team drawn from the pot should have home advantage.
Kildare did not react well to the news. The county released an emphatic statement to the effect of 'Newbridge or nowhere'.
Lilywhites boss Cian O'Neill also appeared live on RTE News to support the statement. He announced that his team would show up to play football at 7 pm on Saturday night. However, they would do so at St Conleth's Park, Newbridge, not in Croker.
"It is indeed (Newbridge of nowhere). From the top, I'd like to be explicitly clear about that. The shock that we were met with today when we initially saw (the draw). I watched the draw itself in work this morning. I'm only after leaving work now to come in here when I could be doing a lot more productive things in terms of focusing on a match on Saturday."
"But obviously, I was focused no more than the players themselves, who are the most important stakeholders in this whole argument, for want of a better term. We were all ready for Newbridge, for St Conleth's Park for Saturday evening at seven o'clock. We're coming off the back of two challenging and tough journeys. You know, up to Owenbeg in Derry. Thankfully, we overcame that. Then in Pearse Park in Longford at the weekend."
"Then to get a home venue for your round three qualifier was a real positive thing for us for the players in particular and most importantly, for the fans in terms of the travel they had to go through the last number of weeks. So for that to be pulled from beneath your feet for no apparent reason. No reason I'm aware of anyway that makes any logical sense or certainly factors the players into the equation, as I said, is critically important. It's just bewildering."
What an emphatic statement. Fair play to Kildare GAA. https://t.co/xBgryyTzkw
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) June 25, 2018
"We were drawn fairly and squarely, we were pulled out first agaist another Division one team that who, mind you, we played in the league this year in St Conleth's Park, ironically. We were drawn first out of the bowl. The rules clearly state that the first team drawn out has a home venue unless they're playing a division three or four team, have home venue. That's exactly where we're going to be on Saturday night. We'll be in St Conleth's Park. We're going to be toggest out, we're going to be ready to go. That's our home venue. We earned it by winning the last two matches on the road and that's not going to be taken away from us."
O'Neill also addressed the other team involved in the game. He stated that he would not be requesting that Mayo join in their protest. However, he believes Stephen Rochford doesn't mind where the clash takes place.
"I don't think I need to (make a personal appeal to Stephen Rochford). And I don't want this to be about Mayo. I feel sorry for Mayo in this whole debacle as well, because obviously I need to focus on our set-up, our group of players. I know this isn't ideal for Mayo either. It's not ideal for Stephen. Stpehen doesn a great job with Mayo. I personally feel that Mayo don't mind where they play. Whether it's in Croke Park, whether it's in St Conleth's Park. I would imagien their issue at the moment is there's still a little bit of inconsistency about where the match is going to be held. So, I don't want it to be about Mayo and I'm sure they don't want it to be about them either."
"The draw s the draw, the fixture is the fixture. We were drawn out first. Let's be fair about this and let's not bring other issues that have nothing to do with the game of football and, more importantly, the lifeblood of the association, the players. Let's not take that away from them. Stick to the rules that you created. Stick to the draw that was made in the presence of the president of the GAA, John Horan this morning. Stick to those rules and let's go and play football. Too much talk about this. Let's just get on the pitch on Saturday in St Conleth's Park in Newbridge at seven o'clock."
Kildare manager Cian O'Neill tells RTÉ his players will be in Newbridge on Saturday evening, not Croke Park pic.twitter.com/2qxU3cqBKf
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) June 25, 2018