GAA categorically deny that money influenced decision to play Kildare qualifier at Croke Park 3 years ago

GAA categorically deny that money influenced decision to play Kildare qualifier at Croke Park

GAA Director of communications Alan Milton has categorically denied that the Association were influenced by financial motivations when scheduling Kildare's round three qualifier with Mayo at Croke Park.

Kildare drew Mayo in the third round of qualifiers for this summer's All-Ireland Senior Football Championship with the first team drawn, Kildare in this instance, granted home advantage.

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Kildare were preparing to host the game at St. Conleth's Park in Newbridge but the game was instead scheduled for Croke Park by the Central Competitions Control Committee.

Milton said that the reason to move the game to Croke Park had nothing to do with financial motivations but rather to ensure the safety of patrons trying to attend the match.

“On Monday, the CCCC came together to fix these games as they do every week and they have to do so with a degree of haste given the pressures that are put on them. And they weren’t satisfied with the health and safety measures around St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge.

"Thankfully discussions have taken place since then [that] have seen some of those issues addressed but I think it’s worth saying that the only driver in this whole thing was the health and safety of patrons.

“That has now been addressed and thankfully we’ve come to a situation where St Conleth’s Park can host the game and host the large crowd that’s expected, not just from Mayo but from Kildare too, and we’re back now talking about Gaelic football.”

Milton also denied that the decision was influenced by broadcasters with Sky Sports set to broadcast the Kildare-Mayo game and the Cavan-Tyrone match which were both slated for a double header at headquarters.

"Categorically not," replied Milton when asked if the decision was influenced by financial or broadcasting factors.

"Some of the most experienced and distinguished administrators in the GAA, including our provincial secretaries, serve on the CCCC.

"They've organised hundreds of games down through the years. They have vast experience and the only driver here was health and safety of our patrons that attend games.

"I'm not sure if people place enough store on health and safety until something goes wrong. It was the only motivation behind the fixing of the game for Croke Park.

"It may lead to a wider discussion in the off season about whether or not our stadia are fit for purpose or whether they need to be certified or delegated.

"But I think that's for another day. I think the focus for Kildare and Mayo will return to the field of play. Both teams will want to be in the bowl for next Monday's round 4 qualifier draw."

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Kildare GAA released a statement on Monday declaring that they were told that safety would not be an issue and that they had satisfied all relevant criteria with approval from An Garda Síochána.

"As soon as the draw was made, we were in contact with Newbridge Garda Síochána immediately and they were happy with the fixture going ahead, their only request being that it throw in at 7pm, given the influx of people to the area due to the Irish Derby taking place at Curragh Racecourse at 5.15pm.

"Having received the backing of the Gardai, we sent an email to the CCCC advising them that we would have no difficulty in hosting the fixture as an all-ticket affair and were already putting plans in place to do so.

"We informed the CCCC of the advice surrounding the 7pm throw-in, and advised them that the Management Committee of Kildare GAA, on behalf of our loyal supporters, respectfully expected that the CCCC would fix the game for Saturday, June 30th, at St Conleth’s Park for 7pm and we had no issue with adhering to the criteria for St Conleths Park as previously agreed with the National Facilities/Health & Safety committee.

"We were asked to provide an alternative venue, an invitation we declined because Kildare are entitled to the home venue as per the draw, and were in the position to do so within all criteria of health and safety, and to the
satisfaction of An Garda Síochána."