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Kieran Keating, Chairman:

Gaelic Grounds deal avoided Cork trek, says Keating

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WHEN last Sunday’s results unexpectedly threw up a Clare-Limerick Munster final it seemed that the logical venue would be Thurles, where last year’s decider took place.

However there was some consternation and bemusement in the county on Monday as it appeared likely that the game would go to Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh, a particularly awkward venue for Clare supporters.

While home advantage was ceded, there was still a good deal of relief on Tuesday when it was confirmed that the match will be played at the Gaelic Grounds.

Speaking about the matter on Wednesday, Clare County Board chairman Kieran Keating explained what had happened. “Thurles was our preference, that’s where we nominated and Limerick nominated Cork. We did our canvassing and so on to the delegates. The game was in Thurles last year and obviously Cork felt they were entitled to their turn. That’s the way we felt the vote was going to go and we consulted with our management team and they felt they’d prefer to play the game in Limerick rather than go down to Cork, because of the logistical problems with Cork, from a team point of view and spectator point of view.”

With Clare having played in the Gaelic Grounds frequently and having beaten Limerick there already this year, he doesn’t feel the venue is a problem. “The pitch itself in Limerick isn’t a particular advantage for Limerick. It’s a ground we’re used to playing in, we’re more used to playing there than in Cork. The feeling was that playing in Limerick wasn’t a particular disadvantage. Cork had a couple of disadvantages in terms of logistics and in terms of organisation for the day. It’s a much longer day for players to go down to Cork. For our players, going past Limerick to go to Cork, some of them would have an hours journey done by the time they get to Limerick and then they’ve to make the journey to Cork. We’d have to go very early because of the traffic on the day too.

“There were various logistical problems that we saw with Cork so we approached Limerick to see what kind of a deal we could do with them to play the game in Limerick. We agreed terms with them and there we are.”
The participating counties and the host county take separate cuts of the Munster final gate. It is understood that part of the deal is that some of the funds Limerick will receive for hosting the game will be transferred to Clare. “Having the game in Limerick boosts Clare GAA and that coupled with our Win a House in Ennis competition is aimed at improving the lot of Clare GAA,” Keating added.

He said he wasn’t privy to the case that Limerick had been making for Cork over Thurles. “I wasn’t present, I’m no longer on the Munster CCC so I don’t know the detail of what they might have put forward, but they’re not required to justify why they want a particular venue, as long as it’s a neutral venue within the province of a suitable size. In fairness to Páirc Uí Chaoimh it’s a suitable venue in everything except for its location being awkward to get to for a big game. If it was a semi final or a game that’d be half full you wouldn’t have half the issues. It’s a fine stadium and a fine pitch.

“If the game ended up there we’d have gone there, but from a players point of view it’d be two hours further, more if you’re a supporter and are caught in traffic. It’s the same coming home from it, and it didn’t make an awful lot of sense. It’s not good for the environment, not good for those leaving families to go to the match. From a players point of view there’s not a great difference between playing on the surface in Limerick or Páirc Uí Chaoimh. We’ll have more supporters in Limerick than we would have had in Cork, tha was definitely a factor for us. A lot of our supporters would have said it’s too much hassle, I’m not going down there, I can’t face that walk into the stadium. We wouldn’t have taken up our full allocation of tickets for Cork whereas we’ll take our full allocation for Limerick.”

Terrace tickets for the Munster final are going on sale at 12 noon on Thursday, June 1, with stand tickets to be distributed subsequently through the county boards and clubs.

Owen Ryan
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Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.