Laois offered to waive '€40k ground rent' to get Dubs to O'Moore Park, says chairman

Gerry Kavanagh is unhappy with the decision to play a potential clash at a neutral venue.

Home of Laois GAA, O'Moore Park.
Home of Laois GAA, O'Moore Park.
Image: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

LAOIS GAA CHAIRMAN Gerry Kavanagh has claimed that the county offered to take a €40,000 hit to host Dublin next summer.

Laois have been left fuming by the decision to overlook their O’Moore Park base in favour of Kilkenny’s Nowlan Park for the Dubs’ 4 June Leinster football quarter-final tie.

All-Ireland champions Dublin will play either Laois or Wicklow and Kavanagh said his county were so keen on staging the game, they offered to waive their right to ‘ground rent’.

As hosts, Laois would have been entitled to a percentage of the gate receipts which Kavanagh estimated to be worth somewhere between €30,000 and €40,000.

Provincial officials still favoured Nowlan Park, the home of Kilkenny hurling, which has around 11,000 more seats than Portlaoise’s O’Moore Park.

Kavanagh said it is his intention to call a meeting of the Laois Executive next Monday evening to consider their response to the development.

Kavanagh said: “If people were saying we wanted this game because we were greedy, that we were looking for the ground rent, people should know that we offered to forego our ground rent.

“We said that if money is at the crux of this, then we were willing to forego ours. Depending on the gate of course, that ground rent would be worth €30,000, on the conservative lower point, and up to €40,000 on the higher point. We made it clear we were open to foregoing that.”

Kavanagh noted that a decision was previously taken by the provincial council that in the event of a draw between Dublin and Laois in 2014, the replay would have taken place in Portlaoise.

He suggested a worrying precedent has now been set by overlooking grounds that are clearly capable of holding major games.

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Kavanagh continued: “When this whole issue of Dublin playing outside of Croke Park was first mooted, we always approached it on the premise that if Croke Park wasn’t being used then the other team would get home advantage. It was never our intention that the other team would be brought to a neutral venue also.

“Of course, that’s where possible. If Wicklow are the team that are lucky enough to play Dublin next summer, they don’t at present have facilities to stage that game. But Offaly would have, so would Wexford and Meath and, in our case, we obviously would have too with O’Moore Park. But that wasn’t considered and I’d be worried about the precedent that’s been set here.”

Aside from the obvious home advantage, Kavanagh outlined how beneficial it could have been to Laois to stage a clash with Dublin there.

He said: “To have the Diarmuid Connollys, the Ciaran Kilkennys, the Bernard Brogans all playing here, it would have been huge for promoting the game to kids in Laois. It’s an element that’s been missing from the GAA, those sorts of occasions and this was a great opportunity passed up.”

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Paul Keane

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