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'Croke Park is Mecca' - Dublin don't have unfair advantage, says Leinster secretary

The Dubs could be on the road in 2016.

Bernard Brogan and Paul Flynn celebrate with the Sam Maguire last month.
Bernard Brogan and Paul Flynn celebrate with the Sam Maguire last month.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

LEINSTER COUNCIL SECRETARY Michael Reynolds claims Croke Park remains a ‘Mecca’ for local counties who, by and large, aren’t ‘thumping on the table’ demanding Dublin be taken out of there.

Provincial chiefs are mulling over the possibility of handing All-Ireland champions Dublin a provincial road trip next summer for the first time since 2006, when they play Laois or Wicklow in the Leinster quarter-finals.

Nowlan Park, with its 17,000 seating capacity, has been touted as the obvious alternative to Croke Park, though Reynolds insisted that Portlaoise, with just 6,000 seats, is firmly in the mix too.

A decision will ultimately be taken on 11 November when the Leinster Council will finalise dates and venues for its 2016 championships.

Speaking at the launch of the Leinster club championships at Barretstown Castle in Kildare, Reynolds said he doesn’t get the sense from counties that they feel Dublin currently have an unfair advantage by playing permanently at Croke Park.

“No, no, you talk to fellas and they don’t (say that),” said Reynolds. “Okay, now and again, I mean it would be wrong to say that nobody says it’s unfair.

But being realistic about it, most people want Croke Park and I know that we make a big deal of this thing, or certainly the media do, about playing in Longford in 2006, but counties don’t come thumping on the table saying, ‘Why is this?’ Croke Park is Mecca.”

Reynolds said there will be a ‘balancing act’ for counties when they consider moving Dublin out of Croke Park, pointing out that ‘if counties want grants there will be less money to go around’ as a result of the lower gate receipts at a provincial venue.

But the provincial official acknowledged that a mood for change may very well exist when it comes to the 11 November vote.

“It depends on the mood on any given occasion,” said Reynolds. “I have no idea at this moment. Nobody has been on to the office calling for one thing or another.

“This is only the last days of October so there is still a couple of weeks to put in a motion of order or to let people know that, ‘look, we’re coming with this’.”

Meanwhile, the top provincial chief said he doesn’t believe the Gaelic Players Association’s plans for Championship overhaul are workable.

Part of the GPA’s suggestion is that the provincial championships be run off in a shorter period, around six weeks, mainly in May.

It’s just too early, I would be pretty sure the counties wouldn’t buy into it,” said Reynolds.

The official also rejected the commonly held opinion that provincial councils are the main obstacle to dumping the provincial championships and going with an entirely open draw.

“I would take a different view, I think it’s a myth that the provincial councils are as powerful as people think they are,” said Reynolds.

“We take our lead from the counties. So if there is no appetite in the counties, there is no point in then saying, ‘Well, the Leinster Council are against this or for that’, if the 12 counties are saying, ‘Lads, forget it’.”

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Paul Keane

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