Just as one GAA row gets sorted out, another one is bubbling up and once again, it’s a cock-up of the organisation’s own making. This one concerns the venues for the football quarter-finals the weekend after next, which, according to reports, will see the games involving Galway and Armagh shunted off to a provincial venue. Not only that, because there’ll be a double header at Croker on at the same time (involving Cork in the football quarter-final and the hurling semi between Cork and Kilkenny), neither of the quarter-finals involving Armagh or Galway are likely to be televised live.
This problem arises because (a) de Dubs are being given a stand-alone date on Saturday the 9th for their quarter-final and (b) the first hurling semi-final is being played on Sunday the 10th. It’s a problem that could easily been avoided because (a) de Dubs shouldn’t be given special treatment and (b) the two hurling semi-finals should be played on the same weekend, either as a double header on the 17th or with one of them being played on the 16th. Come on, lads, it’s not that hard to figure it out!
I can’t for the life of me see why the Dubs have to be treated differently than everyone else (it’s because of the lolly, you simpleton). Why should they be guaranteed 80% of the tickets in an All-Ireland quarter-final? (Because of the lolly it generates, you eejit). Why can’t they take their allocation the same as everyone else? (Because the GAA makes less lolly that way, you fool).
I recall back in 2002 that our quarter-final with Cork was part of a double header which also featured the Dubs and Donegal. Croker was packed enough that day but there was no brouhaha about the Dubs having to share the place with a load of boggers. Now, they get antsy about the fact that the opposing team’s fans have to be allocated a few tickets. My solution to this problem is simple: if they want a standalone fixture, send the fuckers down to somewhere like Thurles. They don’t own Croke Park, even if they act like they do.
And as for the hurling … Putting the first hurling semi on the same day as the football quarter-final is just plain, boneheaded, imbecilic stupidity (God, I’m beginning to sound like Kevin Myers). Croker is free the following weekend and if both matches are played the same weekend then the winners face the same gap between the semis and the final. Easy, isn’t it? I think there’s some suggestion that it’s to facilitate Cork supporters but, if they want to pack as many Dubs as they can into Croker the day before, then why wouldn’t they not then want to fleece the Donkey Ayters as well by getting them to go through the turnstiles two weekends in a row?
The bottom line with next weekend’s scheduling is that filling HQ with De Boyz en Blew for a quarter-final and saving Cork supporters an extra trip to The Smoke is more important than giving all the provincial champions their rightful day in the sun. I know we’d be rightly pissed off if, as Connacht champions, we got shunted off to Hyde Park or Portlaoise or wherever and Galway and Armagh have every right to be up in arms. They’re clearly being treated as second-class provincial champions and, by denying them game time at HQ, it places them at a distinct disadvantage compared to the other counties in the quarter-finals. It must also be galling for them that the two counties they beat in their respective provincial finals will get at least one or maybe even two (if either Fermanagh or ourselves win this weekend and then draw the Dubs or Cork in the quarters) outings in Croke Park while they get to sample the big match atmosphere in Clones or Tullamore or wherever. It would make you wonder about the value of winning a provincial title these days. Unless it’s Dublin or Cork you’re talking about, of course.