THE Limerick footballers will play Kildare in O’Moore Park in Portlaoise this Saturday at 7pm after the GAA ruled that Kildare’s home ground in Newbridge wasn’t sufficient to hold the crowd.
The Kildare venue can only hold between 7 and 8,000 according to a Health and Safety audit carried out on all GAA venues last year. And with over 9,000 Kildare supporters in Breffni Park in Cavan last weekend, the GAA reckoned that Portlaoise was a more suitable venue even though Kildare were supposed to have home advantage as they were pulled out of the draw first on Monday morning.
Kildare last hosted big Qualifier games in 2010 with their game against Antrim, on the day that Dermot Earley senior was laid to rest, drawing a massive crowd.
However, it’s not the first time that a county has had to give up home advantage because of capacity concerns. Louth and Wicklow have also moved games in recent seasons.
Kildare GAA chairman John McMahon has spoke out against the decision. “These draws are clearly done on a home-and-away basis. It was made live on the national airwaves and we were first out of the hat and that gives us home advantage.
“For teams and supporters it’s not about gate receipts or the size of gates, it’s about your team getting through to the next round.
“Getting a home draw helps greatly with that so it’s hard to see how anyone can vindicate taking that advantage away from us.”
Fergal McGill, secretary of the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC), the body responsible for making the fixtures, stressed that the decision was related solely to the capacity - and not linked to Kildare’s outspoken criticim of how the Seanie Johnston transfer was handled.
“We are aware this decision might be linked to other recent issues,” said McGill “but it certainly was not and it was not a decision we wanted to take, or took, lightly.
“Even if we had made it an all-ticked game at Newbridge, there was a fear that several thousands more could have turned up without tickets.”
The only Qualifier game live on TV is the Kerry V Tyrone clash at 5pm on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Limerick V Kilkenny All Ireland SHC quarter-final game has been confirmed for Sunday week, July 29, in Thurles. The game will throw in at 4pm and will be preceeded by the other quarter-final game between Cork and Waterford at 2pm.