NA Piarsaigh GAA chairman Timmy O’Connor has hit back in the row over the venue for the Munster club hurling final.
Na Piarsaigh will meet Clare champions Crusheen again next Sunday in Thurles after the sides drew last weekend. But Munster Council chairman Sean Walsh has blamed the venue choice on Na Piarsaigh’s refusal to toss a coin to decide whether the game be played in the Gaelic Grounds or Cusack Park in Ennis.
“When we got initial correspondence from the Munster Council, we were told that it was home and away for the early rounds and it was a neutral venue for the final,” explained O’Connor yesterday.
“When it was suggested to us we toss for venue, we said no. Anyone who saw the Clare county final on TG4 could see that the pitch was in horrendous condition and we didn’t want to risk that.
“Our main concern was for our players and we wouldn’t have been happy to go to Ennis - we wanted to go to the best available venue and the Munster Council picked Thurles.
“It’s a bit rich coming from Sean Walsh about being concerned for supporters in this economic climate. If he was so concerned, you’d think he’d have reduced the admission price. I thought E20 in and E3 for a programme was a bit steep. It was the same the week before for the game between Effin and Ballyduff - I thought E15 admission was too much for an intermediate final.
“The Munster Council have little to be doing if they’re making an issue out of this but we’re not going to allow it take from our preparations for Sunday.”
The official attendance at Sunday’s game was given as 2,893 but that was actually up on last year’s final when 1,604 watched Thurles Sarsfields (Tipperary) and De La Salle (Waterford) in Pairc ui Chaoimh. In 2009, Newtownshandrum (Cork) and Ballygunner (Waterford) met in Thurles when the crowd was 3,000.
Sean Walsh said it was “crazy” to be bringing the match to Thurles but said they had no choice after Na Piarsaigh refused to toss.
“We’re getting a lot of flak for that decision,” he said, “but it’s totally out of our control. We can’t force anyone to toss; under rule , if either club refuses to agree we then nominate a neutral venue. That’s as much as we can do.”
Meanwhile, TG4 have confirmed that they will be showing full deferred coverage of the replay.
TG4’s head of sport, Ronan O’Coisdealbha said that they initially planned on showing the Munster football final between Dr Croke’s and UCC live with deferred coverage of the Leinster football semi-final between Portlaoise and Dublin champions St Brigid’s. However, they have dropped the club game in favour of the Na Piarsaigh-Crusheen clash.
“The Munster hurling final is always a huge crowd puller for us,” he said, “and we decided after last week’s game that we’d show it deferred this time.
“We have to have a balance so we couldn’t show it live again but there is enough interest to have it deferred.”