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'You were in a no-win situation' - GAA defend Dublin-Roscommon venue change

Plenty people were not happy with the late call to move the game to Carrick-on-Shannon.

GAA DIRECTOR-GENERAL Paraic Duffy has defended the decision to wait until yesterday morning before changing the venue of the Allianz football league game between Roscommon and Dublin.

The Dublin team huddle The Dublin team gather in a huddle before yesterday's game in Carrick-on-Shannon Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The match was moved from Dr Hyde Park after an early morning inspection declared the pitch unplayable and the game instead took place in Carrick-on-Shannon with Dublin winning out 1-13 to 1-12.

Announcing the venue change on Sunday morning drew criticism after there had been concerns expressed last week over the pitch in Roscommon being playable.

But Duffy believes it was right to give Roscommon every chance to host the fixture.

“The pitch was inspected on Friday evening, and was absolutely playable. A lot of work had been done on it during the week.

“Obviously there were concerns about the weather forecast, and what might happen over the weekend, and it was inspected again on Saturday, by an inter-county referee.

“There were doubts expressed, there was water on the pitch, and it all depended on what happened overnight. There was consideration given at that stage whether the game should be changed.

Paraic Duffy was speaking at the opening of the GAA National Games Development Centre in Abbotstown today. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Having said that, changing the game was a big call. For Roscommon it was a huge game, the All-Ireland champions at home, and they wanted to play it at home for all kinds of reasons.

“The decision was taken then to inspect again on the Sunday morning, again by an inter-county referee. It rained overnight, unfortunately, and the decision was taken to move the game.

“Okay, maybe you could make the point the game should have been moved sooner, but for the people of Roscommon it was a huge call.”

Duffy praised the manner in which the venue change was communicated and the Leitrim GAA officials who stepped in to make Páirc Sean MacDiarmada available.

“To be fair to the communications (staff in the GAA), it was dealt with very fast. There was only one train left Roscommon for Dublin on Sunday morning, arrived at 10am, and members of our staff did contact Iarnród Éireann to see could they get people from Roscommon to Carrick-on-Shannon, 26 miles away.

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“They couldn’’t, and that’s fair enough, so we took to organise two buses, contacted hotels and local B&B’s to tell people there that would be available.

A general view of  Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada A general view of Páirc Sean MacDiarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“In fact the two buses weren’’t even full. One was, the other wasn’’t. And the game went ahead in Carrick-on-Shannon, and the people there did a fantastic job, a voluntary effort on their part, as they have no full-time staff.”

Saturday’s EirGrid Connacht U21 football final was switched from Dr Hyde Park to Markievicz Park, and that decision had raised question marks over the venue for the arrival of Jim Gavin’s Dublin team.

“That was a sensible decision to make,” stated Duffy.

“It wasn’t as big an event in terms of crowd numbers. If you’d played on Saturday and the pitch was playable on Sunday but very cut up, you’d have criticism for letting an U21 game go ahead.

Emmet O Conghaile and Sean McDermott Dublin's Emmet Ó Conghaile and Roscommon's Seanie McDermott in action in Carrick-on-Shannon Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Of course we could have made a decision to pull it out of there on Saturday, and if it turned out Hyde Park was playable on Sunday, people would say why didn’’t you wait until the Sunday.

“So you can’’t win in this situation, and I don’t think too many people were inconvenienced. Some were, not too many.

“The long-term issue is we need to rectify the situation at Hyde Park, and we’ve had meetings with Roscommon on that already.

“But I think in the circumstances you were in a no-win situation. It’s a matter of opinion after that.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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