Home GAA Opinion: Dublin Hurlers’ Needless Away Game To Tipperary Is Nothing Short Of A Farce

Opinion: Dublin Hurlers’ Needless Away Game To Tipperary Is Nothing Short Of A Farce

Following the results of Saturday evening, Dublin, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford won through to the second round of the All-Ireland Hurling Championship qualifiers.

In recent times, this round of games have been held at a neutral venue, most often as a double-header in Semple Stadium, Thurles.

The one exception to this rule was in 2014, when Tipperary were in the round and thus could not play at home. Wexford faced Waterford in Nowlan Park, while Tipp and Offaly faced off in Portlaoise.

Granted, there are no express rules to state that this game must be played in a neutral venue, but this has become the status quo of late.

As the Premier were drawn against the Dubs on Monday morning, speculation mounted as to where a neutral game could be played. Portlaoise seemed like a plausible shout, with other options on the table.

However, the Dubs now find themselves in the situation where they face the All-Ireland champions in their own backyard, without any reasonable explanation offered.

Dublin county board chairman Sean Shanley has spoken out strongly against the decision, and rightly so.

Dublin have endured a torrid 2017 to date. Relegation from Division 1A in the League was followed by a hammering at the hands of Galway in the first round of Leinster.

However, there were positives for Ger Cunningham’s side following their 2-25 to 1-15 win over Laois in Parnell Park. The Boys in Blue scored 1-14 without reply in the second half to avoid a banana skin and march into the next round. The performances of Eamon Dillon, Shane Barrett and David Treacy were causes for optimism.

Was it a case that this team had forgotten how to win earlier in the year? Losing tight games to Waterford, Kilkenny and Clare (twice) would suggest so. However, there was a pep back in their step on Saturday night, and a sense that perhaps they could cause a surprise in the second round, particularly against a struggling Tipp team.

Any chance of that upset seems to have diminished with the choice of venue.

Thurles has not been a happy hunting ground for the Dublin hurlers in recent years, particularly against Tipperary. Heavy defeats to the Premier in the 2016 NHL, 2014 All-Ireland quarter-final and 2013 NHL semi-final (three matches with a combined winning margin of 42 points) leave even the most optimistic Dublin fans fearful of Saturday’s task.

Many counter-arguments made today have focused on the irony of a Dublin team complaining about a supposed-neutral game taking place in their opponents home county.

Of course, Jim Gavin’s footballers play the majority of their championship matches in HQ, and are at an advantage as a result. But what does that have to do with Ger Cunningham and the Dublin hurlers?

Are the capital’s hurlers being punished due to the advantage held by their football counterparts? The poor relation suffers once again.

The fact of the matter is that this is a home game for the Tipperary hurlers, who have frequent training sessions in Semple Stadium along with Dr Morris Park. The Premier have an edge before a ball is even pucked on Saturday evening, and it could well have removed any slight hope the Dubs had of causing a huge upset.

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Make sure to tune into The 16th Man podcast, where we debate the venue issue for Saturday’s qualifiers and talk through all the latest action.

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