The row over the venue for Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC qualifier between Kildare and Mayo appears nowhere nearer a resolution.
Both sides are digging their heels in as the prospect of Mayo being awarded a walkover moves closer.
Kildare were drawn out of the hat first for this round three qualifier, meaning that they had home advantage.
But the GAA intervened and the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) fixed the game for Croke Park as part of a double-header with Cavan-Tyrone.
Kildare insist that they weren’t going to give up home advantage and since then the two sides have been at loggerheads. Tickets for a Croke Park double-header remain on sale, though reportedly very few have yet been sold.
Reports circulated that the GAA were set to meet officials from the Kildare County Board on Tuesday night, but this didn’t come to pass and no meeting between the sides is currently planned.
With the Lilywhites adamant that it’s ‘Newbridge or nowhere’ and the GAA equally trenchant in their view that the game will go ahead at Headquarters, the nuclear option is now coming closer to reality.
This would involve Kildare refusing to travel to Croke Park, a tiny crowd watching the first game between Tyrone and Cavan and then Mayo taking the field alone to accept the walkover.
St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge is badly in need of investment, with the Kildare board planning a redevelopment in near future.
Its capacity has been slashed in recent years to just under 8,500 and the GAA say that this is too small to accommodate the number of fans who will want to watch this match.
Mayo and Kildare are historically well supported counties and around 4,000 season ticket holders from both counties would mean that barely half of Newbridge’s capacity would be made available to the general public.
Lilywhites boss Cian O'Neill has been the most vocal critic of the decision to move the game. He had scheduled a 5pm media conference for Tuesday and when that was cancelled it led to speculation that a solution was near, but that proved unfounded.
Cavan were also first out of the hat in Monday morning’s draw, meaning they should have had home advantage against Tyrone, but work on the pitch at Kingspan Breffni Park means the game had to be moved.
Their second round qualifier against Down, also down as a home fixture, was played at nearby Brewster Park in Fermanagh.
There has been a walkover given in the All-Ireland qualifiers before, with Tipperary pulling out of their scheduled first round meeting with Fermanagh in 2004.
In the days before the game 14 years ago Tipp manager Andy Shortall resigned following a row with the county board over the scheduling of club hurling games. With no replacement appointed, the team pulled out.
Tipp were fined for failing to fulfil the fixture.
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