Former Dublin captain Ciarán Whelan. ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Home and Away

Whelan: 'Dubs have no problem playing outside Croke Park, that's Leinster Council's problem'

Those sentiments were echoed by the GAA President.

THE DUBLIN PLAYERS are more than happy to play provincial championship games away from Croke Park.

That’s according to former Dubs football star Ciarán Whelan, who says the blame should be aimed at the Leinster Council for the fact that the Dublin footballers haven’t played a provincial game anywhere other than GAA headquarters since 2006.

The issue has been a hot topic of discussion over the past week, with many — including Offaly manager Pat Flanagan, whose side could face Dublin at Croke Park later this month if they overcome Longford — critical of the tradition of the Dubs automatically being awarded home advantage.

“Of course it is [an advantage],” said ex-Dublin captain Ciarán Whelan, who made 39 of his 47 championship appearances at Croke Park.

“This myth about Dublin not playing outside Croke Park? Dublin have no problem playing outside Croke Park, that’s the Leinster Council’s problem. That’s something they have to address.

“Going back 15 or 20 years, going to support the Dubs on the road [there] was great excitement and I think nearly the supporters would prefer it. It would add a bit of buzz.”

Although playing at Croke Park might benefit Dublin, Whelan pointed out that the gulf between the Dubs and their Leinster rivals is currently so substantial that the choice of venue is unlikely to have a major impact on the outcome of a particular game.

“I would say that probably the gap between Dublin and a few of the other Leinster counties is still so broad that I think they’d overcome those problems,” said Whelan.

inpho_00627547 Dublin fans at Croke Park. Where else?

“And Dublin’s league form has been good on the road. There was a period when they struggled on the road but you look at this year in Monaghan and Mayo, I don’t think there’s any huge issues with them. I think it’s much ado about nothing really.

“There was a time when Dublin would have played in the first round of the Leinster Championship and you’d have a minimum of 50,000 people there. Those days have dwindled as well but I think that relates back to the [championship] structures.”

Meanwhile, GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail believes Dublin shouldn’t be exempt from the usual methods of determining home and away advantage for championship games.

The Cavan native said: “Dublin should be like any other county. They should take the luck of the draw and play wherever the draw brings them. I know the Dublin players would welcome that too and I think the supporters around the country do.

“I’ve seen Dublin in Clones, I’ve seen them in Longford, it’s been good for everybody. As far as I’m concerned, I think Dublin should be the exact same as Carlow. Wherever the luck of the draw brings you, away you go.”

Ciarán Whelan and Aogán Ó Fearghail were speaking at the launch of RTÉ’s 2015 GAA Championship coverage. RTÉ will broadcast 31 live games in HD across the summer, including all six provincial finals, four All-Ireland Senior quarter-finals, plus All-Ireland Senior semi-finals and finals in both hurling and football.

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