Gary Carr/INPHO Katie Taylor.
# impasse
Nobody really to blame for Taylor's Croke Park night falling through
Sometimes, things don’t work out. It’s just a pity that we had gotten our hopes up.

IT’S MAD TO think that, after over six years of waiting, a Katie Taylor fight in Ireland could feel like a letdown.

In reality, there will be nothing anticlimactic about the moment in which Taylor walks out in front of a rapturous audience at Dublin’s 3Arena on 20 May. But for the moment, the dominant sense around Taylor’s homecoming remains one of ‘what if’ — even though it is probably actually going to happen.

To whom you apportion the blame for Croke Park falling through — or how you distribute it across the board — is totally subjective. You’ll find people dug in all over this Venn diagram of debate, most of them making valid points.

The most searing take of all might be that, in the end, this was just one of those things that didn’t work out and for which nobody was especially to blame.

Croke Park’s commercial director, Peter McKenna, has stated that the rental fee for Croke Park in the instance of a Taylor fight was €400,000, dismissing the claims of promoter Eddie Hearn who said that the stadium worked out as being three times more expensive to book than Wembley. McKenna suggested that there would have been a significant, additional security cost for which Hearn’s Matchroom were reluctant to pay.

Hearn’s Matchroom dispute this. They contend that the €400,000 price to which McKenna alluded yesterday was merely the figure that was specifically referred to as ‘rent’ in a longer list of charges which they received in two parts, on separate days. The first, including the €400,000 rent, amounted to €580,000. Matchroom say they agreed to it, believing at that point that they had reached a deal with Croke Park. But they say that they subsequently received a second list of operational costs — including security fees — and that this amounted to a further €507,000, bringing the total cost to almost €1.1 million.

That such a figure would work out as being roughly three times steeper than an all-inclusive night at Wembley left Hearn and co. suspecting that they were effectively being taken for a ride. Matchroom also maintain that security fees made for only a portion of that overall cost and that they were a non-issue.

Though the figures in question weren’t broached at the time, McKenna denied this order of events when speaking to Off the Ball on Thursday. Privately, meanwhile, Matchroom dispute McKenna’s denial. And so on.

The exact truth sits in email inboxes in Dublin and in New York, where Hearn and Matchroom will stage Amanda Serrano’s undisputed featherweight title clash with Erika Cruz tonight and from where they will announce a Taylor-Serrano rematch at the 3Arena on 20 May provided Serrano is successful in her conquest.

If he has such proof of his side of the story, it wouldn’t be beyond Hearn to produce it at the press conference penciled in for Dublin next Wednesday. That being said, it also might not be in his best interests to inflame the situation further: while Taylor will never fight at Croke Park, it’s not inconceivable that a future Irish boxer might warrant such a stage.

On the other side of the equation, it seems unlikely that McKenna would stoop as far as ‘bringing receipts’ to prove his point. If the last 48 hours were a fight, he won it comfortably on the Irish public’s scorecards. He’s a better speaker even than Hearn, and he’s inherently more trustworthy than a boxing promoter by simply not being one.

There was surely a better time for Hearn to wage a PR battle against an Irish institution than when he was already up the walls in a different timezone across the Atlantic.

Matchroom probably overestimated the extent to which Taylor is truly admired in Ireland. Hearn certainly underestimated the extent to which a significant portion of the Irish public would row in behind the the GAA.

It was naive of him, as well, to so publicly ask for government assistance. Granted, there is precedent — and there literally exists a process through which the government can be approached to fund a sporting event, just as they did the women’s Irish Open golf tournament in Dromoland Castle, Co. Clare last year.

Granted, also, that if the Irish taxpayer was presented with an exhaustive list of things for which they pay, a Taylor fight in Croke Park probably wouldn’t even break the top 50 of things about which one might be left annoyed.

But Hearn doesn’t have the credit in the bank in Ireland to be cribbing about a lack of support from the government towards anything. He made another rod for his own back in taking them on.

It’s nice to think that Croke Park would make greater concessions in a tip of the cap to an Irish sporting great, but it’s absurd to suggest that were in some way obliged to do so. Their remit is to protect their own interests, first and foremost. The idea that Croke Park should bend over backwards to facilitate Taylor is guff.

It would have been nice to think that Taylor’s promoter, Hearn, would just take the hit and get the job done. A couple of years ago, he might have. But he’s answerable to investors, now, and the idea that he would simply absorb the risk out of goodwill is off the wall.

And while the whole thing reeks of being a missed opportunity, it was simply the case that a Katie Taylor homecoming at Croke Park didn’t make enough sense for anybody to put their neck on the line.

Sometimes, things don’t work out. It’s just a pity that we had gotten our hopes up.

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