GAA defend decision to not fix All-Ireland semi-final replay for Croke Park
Last Updated: 28/08/14 4:15pm
Penn State face the University of Central Florida in the Croke Park Classic on Saturday
GAA Head of Media Relations Alan Milton says Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final replay could not be played at Croke Park due to a long-standing commitment to host an American college football game.
Penn State University will face the University of Central Florida in the Croke Park Classic this weekend, forcing the GAA to fix the semi-final replay between Kerry and Mayo for Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds.
The GAA has been heavily criticised for the decision but Milton told Sky Sports News HQ that they were unable to reschedule the American football game, having penciled it in over 18 months ago.
“The reason the game is not taking place in Croke Park is because we have a longstanding commitment for a colleges American football game involving Penn State University and the University of Central Florida,” said Milton.
“That arrangement stretches back about 18 months ago, when as an organisation we made a decision to pencil the date in question.
“We had no indication we would require Croke Park on that date because draws are very infrequent. In fact, from the last 56 football semi-finals, we’ve only had four drawn games.
“So it was thought at the time that this was an avenue worth pursuing, to help raise the profile of the stadium and to possibly make a connection with colleges football in the United States on a more long-term basis.”
Mayo were unsuccessful in their attempts to have the semi-final moved back seven days, when Croke Park would be available. Milton says they couldn't agree to that request as should a second replay be required, it could have put the date of the All-Ireland final in jeopardy.
“The rationale behind us not being able to kick it back six or seven days was if we were to have another draw in the replayed game, it would have required a third installment,” he said.
"We had no indication we would require Croke Park on that date because draws are very infrequent. In fact, from the last 56 football semi-finals, we’ve only had four drawn games."
“That would have had a very serious knock-on effect on our overall diary, which would have meant that the All-Ireland final, which takes place on September 21, would come into jeopardy.
“That just wasn’t a scenario that we could contemplate. We have to have our teams and logistics in place further than seven days out, so it just wasn’t possible.”
Milton clarified that no games were moved out of Croke Park in order to accommodate the Garth Brooks concerts, which were later cancelled, but says additional revenue is crucial to the GAA.
“In essence, we’re trying to make Croke Park work for the better,” he said. “We have major infrastructural projects underway in Casement Park in Belfast and Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork, and revenue that might be generated from events such as those that you’ve mentioned are crucially important.
“In addition to the revenue that we pump back into our club network for facilities across the island of Ireland, we also have overseas networks such as London. We now have 400 clubs across the globe to support.”
Watch Kerry v Mayo live on Sky Sports 4 on Saturday from 4.30pm