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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 11 December, 2018

Trip to Tipp: Dublin hurlers left shortchanged by qualifier fixture arrangements

Tipperary are likely to win this game no matter where it is played, but that’s not the point.

DUBLIN WERE ALWAYS going to come out the wrong side of the Round 2 qualifier draw.

Dublin make their way onto the pitch Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Waterford and Kilkenny would both have presented significant challenges, but as it turned out, Dublin were paired with reigning All-Ireland champions Tipperary.

A seemingly insurmountable task now awaits them.

And since the tie has been fixed for Semple Stadium as part of a double-header with the other qualifier between Waterford and Kilkenny, the difficulty factor has climbed a few notches.

The Round 2 qualifiers are generally held at neutral venues, although the final decision is at the discretion of the CCCC.

Out of the four teams involved in this Round 2 draw, Dublin are the only team left shortchanged by that arrangement.

In truth, Tipperary are likely to win this tie regardless of location, but that’s not the point.

Dublin at least deserve the dignity of playing on the same terms as the other teams that will feature in these qualifiers, and that hasn’t materialised.

Semple Stadium regularly hosts crunch championship ties, and 2017 will be the third consecutive year this stage of the competition has been held at the venue.

But that sense of tradition should not supersede the importance of having a level playing field for all sides.

It’s not as if the GAA are tied to the Thurles grounds in this instance.

There are other venues available to divert the fixture to, namely Nowlan Park or Walsh Park.

All the GAA have to do to in order to make either of those venues eligible for selection, is to drop the double-header tag and play the qualifiers separately.

The public reaction to Dublin’s position about the choice of venue has been somewhat divisive.

Broadly speaking, their complaints have been greeted with unfair comparisons with the Dublin footballers, and the frequency with which Jim Gavin’s team play championship games in the capital.

But the reality is that both teams are separate from each other, and they follow different paths during their respective championship campaigns. The movements of the footballers are irrelevant when it comes to their hurling counterparts.

The public however, appear to have lost sight of that, and have moved to condemn the hurlers for highlighting an obvious inequality embedded in a crucial championship fixture.

Sean Shanley, Chairman of Dublin GAA, labelled the situation “an insult” in an interview with The Herald on Tuesday, and indicated that the Dublin County board will contest the decision when they meet the CCCC later this week.

It’s hard to argue against their position, and their demands for fairness are entirely justified.

And given that Tipperary travelled to Portlaoise for a Round 2 qualifier against Offaly in 2014, there is a precedent there that should be adhered to for the game this weekend.

Dublin are heading into this tie with a considerable amount of baggage, on account of the sustained negative commentary that has plagued them throughout the season.

The misery has been compounded by some disappointing results, including a 14-point defeat against Galway in the Leinster championship.

Losing out in a fixture that was supposed to be bound by venue neutrality, is just another setback in an already dismal 2017.

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