Our new weekly piece has arrived. It’s the middle of the week, everybody has gotten the start out of the way, but it’s not yet close enough the get excited about the weekend. We all love to complain in Ireland, so every Wednesday from now on, we will bring to you our Wednesday Whinge.
This week it is based around Dublin’s game with Laois in Nolan Park this Saturday. The Leinster Championship has possibly become the biggest snooze-fest out of all the poor provincial championships at the moment. Dublin have completed five-in-a-row twice in the last 11 years, with 2010 being the only exception.
The gap is widening with each year. It was not that long ago that counties like Wexford, Kildare and Meath in particular were very close to the Dubs, but they have gone backwards and Dublin have gone forwards leading to poor quality for everyone.
A big criticism from the outside was playing all of Dublin’s games in Croke Park and possibly the overuse of Croke Park in general. Games are being played in half-empty stadiums, and while everyone loves to play in Croke Park, its use has done the provincial championship no favours.
The Leinster Council finally took some practical and some non-financial incentivised action by taking Dublin out of Croke Park, but what do they do, fix a game between Dublin and Laois for Nowlan Park in Kilkenny, ‘the home of football’.
How does this move make sense?
The solution for the Leinster championship is very straight forward. There are 12 teams in the draw and allow each team to fix their games on a home and away arrangement. Does that mean everybody will get to go to games? No, but it would improve so much.
So what if Wicklow draw Dublin at home and the Dubs have to travel to Aughrim. At least there would be a massive sense of occasion. A 10,000 sell-out crowd would be packed into a small arena. The local economy would get a big pay day. Fans would travel in numbers and the atmosphere would improve greatly.
This idea of putting 30,000 into Croke Park is nonsense. It can only be based on money. More supporters might get in, but so what. Not everybody gets to go to an All-Ireland final when demand is a lot higher. Stadiums need to be utilised far more efficiently in GAA, and Dublin in Croker is the best example of this.
There is no reason why this Saturday’s game should not be played in Portlaoise. There is no reason why home advantage should have been taken out of Laois’s hands by the Leinster Council.
It’s typical GAA – let’s change something to make it look like we are taking action, so let’s put a game on in a location that suits neither team where an inter-county football game has never taken place.
The game should be on in Portlaoise, and every game in Leinster from now on should take place in the home ground of the team drawn at home with the final taking place in Croke Park.
If the provincial championships are to have any future, a change like this must occur. It would follow the template set by Ulster, the only healthy provincial championship at the moment.
This writer would prefer the provincial championships to be scrapped altogether. If they are to stay, an effort must be made to resurrect them. Playing Dublin and Laois in Nowlan Park is not the answer, plain and simple.
So that is the first Wednesday Whinge out of the way. As mentioned in our intro, this will be a regular piece on the site every Wednesday from now on.
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