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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 7 December, 2019

'I'd rather give home advantage back to Dublin than play in Kilkenny' - Colm Begley

The Laois man would rather play in Croke Park than Nowlan Park.

Begley will take part in Ireland's International Rules game with Australia.
Begley will take part in Ireland's International Rules game with Australia.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

LAOIS’ COLM BEGLEY has admitted he’d rather hand home advantage back to Dublin than play them in next year’s Leinster football championship at Nowlan Park.

Experienced half-back Begley said he has nothing against the home of Kilkenny hurling but, if Laois do overcome Wicklow to qualify for a June 4 showdown with the Dubs, he’d rather play at Croke Park.

Begley’s first choice, of course, would have been to play the game in Laois’ own O’Moore Park but Leinster Council officials snubbed the ground at Wednesday evening’s fixtures meeting.

Former AFL player Begley, speaking from Ireland’s Eirgrid International Rules camp at Carton House, said they wasted a ‘massive opportunity’ to promote the game in Laois.

He also questioned why Dublin and either Laois or Wicklow were being taken to a neutral venue for the quarter-final tie and described the entire situation as ‘disappointing’.

Begley said that if he’d known Portlaoise was off the table, he’d have happily handed home advantage back to Dublin and played them at Croke Park.

“I suppose I would, to be honest with you,” said Begley. “We don’t get as many chances to play in Croker any more. It’s the place you want to play in. People talk about Dublin and the crowd but I’d rather play in front of a big crowd than play down in Nowlan Park, if it’s not going to be our home ground.”

Begley said the missed opportunity to promote the game in Laois was particularly galling.

“First of all, it’s a massive opportunity lost, promotion wise,” he continued. “It would have been a big event, the All-Ireland champions coming down to wherever it is, Wicklow or Laois. It’s huge and should be huge.

“Kids see Dublin players, even the kids from Laois, they see Dublin players like Bernard Brogan and they’re role models for them. So to see them coming down and playing against our boys would be massive and it’s gone to Kilkenny now.

“Nothing against Kilkenny’s ground or anything like that, it’s fantastic, but two teams now have to travel for no reason and we’re supposed to have a home game, or Wicklow, are supposed to have a home game.

“I don’t see the benefit of it.”

Meanwhile, Australia’s preparations for the International Rules test have been disrupted by confirmation that their scheduled warm up game against a New York selection has been cancelled.

The star studded Aussie panel are training in the Big Apple and Ireland manager Joe Kernan said he’d planned to have their practice game watched by scouts for vital information.

Winners and losers as Dublin’s footballers prepare for trip to Nowlan Park next summer

Journalists will be banned from tweeting at future Clare county board meetings

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Paul Keane

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