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Tipperary TDs are raging over 'incomprehensible' Semple Stadium World Cup snub

Iconic Thurles venue was not included on the long list of 12 grounds announced yesterday.

Semple Stadium:
Semple Stadium: "Impeccable record of holding big crowds."
Image: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Updated at 08.00

TIPPERARY TDS JACKIE Cahill and Alan Kelly are demanding answers after Semple Stadium was omitted from the list of stadia making up Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid.

Cahill, Fianna Fáil’s junior spokesperson on Food and Horticulture, is hoping to raise the issue in the Dáil today, describing the Semple Stadium snub as “incomprehensible.”

And Labour TD Kelly says that the decision to omit the Thurles venue from the long-list of 12 stadia revealed yesterday is “beyond comprehension.”

Cahill has been told that a lack of hotel beds in his home town was a factor considered but he couldn’t hide his disappointment after hearing the news.

He said: “It’s my home town, I can’t understand it.

“I’m told it’s a lack of hotel beds but Thurles is within three miles of the motorway and has one of the best rail infrastructures in the country.

“It’s the second largest stadium in the country, with an impeccable record of holding big crowds.

“It’s incomprehensible for me as a Thurles man. We have an impeccable record of holding big crowds and how many big days have been in Thurles and never a hitch regarding organisation?

“Two and a half miles from Thurles and you’re on the motorway, Cork is less than an hour and Newlands Cross less than an hour.

“I find it really sickening that it has been overlooked. A boost like that for the town would have been very significant.

“Killarney is on the list, a fine field but very little seating accommodation, and to get to Killarney from Dublin is a day’s work.

“Fly into Dublin airport and you’re in Thurles in an hour and a quarter. Fly into Cork and you’re in Thurles in an hour, Shannon the same way.

“If they are serious about this, how could they overlook a stadium with a record of holding big matches? The traffic flies out of Thurles in an hour after the match and we have 20 trains a day coming to Thurles, without putting on any specials, plus the railway line is within a couple of hundred yards of the stadium.”

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Kelly said: “I’m very disappointed that Thurles isn’t included and I would ask for it to be reconsidered.

“Thurles is one of the best stadia in the country and has a long association with sport. I can’t understand what infrastructure issues are there to prevent it from being one of the chosen venues.

“Thurles can deal with 50,000 people for a Munster final in its environs and the businesses and townspeople believed Semple Stadium would be on the list.

“It’s a huge negative for the people of Thurles and surrounds. I would ask the group responsible to publish the reasons why Thurles is not included.”

Kelly added: “For me, Castlebar is a fine town and there are other locations which are good locations but how could they be possibly better than Thurles and have better infrastructures than what hold some of the top GAA games in the country every year? It’s beyond my comprehension.”

Seven of the eight GAA venues included in the list have lower capacities than Semple Stadium.

“We looked at all the grounds,” IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said on Tuesday.

“We had a company called Wilson, Owen and Owens who were responsible for the 2012 London Olympics and the Rugby World Cup 2015 and the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“They looked at all the stadia… but ultimately it was boiled down to a shortlist of 12 which, in their experience, would be the best mix.”

– Additional reporting by Sean Farrell

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