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01st Jul 2018

Will St Conleth’s Park still be a ‘suitable ground’ if Kildare advance to the Super 8s?

Jack O'Toole

Kildare advanced to the final round of the All-Ireland qualifiers with a two-point win over Mayo in Newbridge on Saturday.

The match attracted significant attention in the build up for the GAA’s decision to originally schedule the game as part of a double header with Tyrone and Cavan at Croke Park, before insisting that the game would be played at headquarters, and then later relocating the match to Newbridge, after Kildare’s rightful insistence that they should be awarded home advantage after they were the first team drawn in the GAA’s All-Ireland qualifier draw.

Rule 6.28 (2) of the GAA rulebook states that “home venues shall be used in Rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the All-Ireland qualifier series with the first team drawn having home advantage” but Rule 3.27 declares that the CCCC is given responsibility “for competition scheduling and arrangements for and control of games (excluding appointment of referees) under the jurisdiction of the Central Council.”

The GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) decided that the capacity at St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge was not suitable for “health and safety” reasons.

“The GAA wishes to point out that the decision by the CCCC [Central Competitions Control Committee] to fix the game for Croke Park originally was based on serious concerns around the health and safety of patrons attending the fixture,” the Association said in a statement.

“The CCCC has received assurances that these issues will be adequately addressed.”

This summer will see the introduction of the Super 8 series where the four provincial champions and the four winning teams from round four of the All-Ireland qualifiers play three games each in two groups of four teams during the months of July and August.

Each group consists of two provincial champions and the two losing finalists of the other two provinces or the team that beats them in round four of the qualifiers.

The two provincial champions meet and the two qualifiers meet in Croke Park in the first round. In phase two the round four qualifier teams have home advantage and the provincial winners are at home in phase three. Dublin, if they qualify, will also play their home game at Croke Park.

However, for example, if Kildare draw Cork in the final round of qualifiers on Monday, and they win, they will then be drawn into the same group as defending All-Ireland champions Dublin and could theoretically then face the Jacks at Newbridge.

Home venues for the Super 8 series shall be subject to approval by the Central Competitions Control Committee and shall meet the criteria set down by the National Facilities/Health and Safety Committee.

Under the GAA Official Guide r3.47 (a), the Central Competitions Control Committee has overall responsibility for Competition Scheduling and Arrangements for and Control of Games under the jurisdiction of the Central Council.

Under the GAA Official Guide r7.11(e)(3), there is no right of appeal against a decision of the Central Competitions Control Committee or a Provincial Competitions Control Committee with regard to arrangements for the date and venue of a game.

An Garda Siochana stated that they were content with the level of safety surrounding St Conleth’s Park for Kildare’s qualifier with Mayo but GAA Director of Communications Alan Milton said that they will have to discuss the suitability of certain grounds for the quarter-final series.

“Look, if Kildare do make it to the quarter-final stage, that’s an issue to be discussed then,” Milton told The Irish Times.

“It’s possible that in the close season there will be more conversation around future championships, for example in Leinster – if the county doesn’t have a venue of 15,000, there are certain games they can’t host.”

If grounds are not suitable, the county board can nominate an alternative venue as Cavan did with Brewster Park while their home ground of Breffni Park is under development, however, the Kildare county board refused to nominate an alternative venue for their  round three qualifier which has the potential to recreate last week’s scheduling conflict should the lilywhites progress to the Super 8s.

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