Castlebar is the only sensible choice for the Connacht final

McHale Park

The Connacht Council announced on Monday that they intend to decide on where this year’s provincial decider will be held after the Leitrim/London semi-final has been played this coming Sunday, noting as they did so that Hyde Park – the hitherto obvious neutral venue – isn’t a runner, having fallen foul of the strictures of the Slattery Report. This should be an easy decision for them to make as it’s as plain as day that McHale Park is the only logical option.

Galway is a great city and in the middle of July the place is always buzzing. It’s sure to be packed with people on July 21st this year too and there’s no reason to add to this multitude by tipping a Connacht final into Salthill.

The first reason for doing so is Pearse Stadium itself. Nice stand, shame about the terracing that accommodates getting on for three-quarters of the 25,000 or so capacity in the place. McHale Park, with all those bloody poles, has issues too but at least everyone going to a match in Castlebar will get somewhere to plank their posteriors. If it’s Salthill, it’s only those in the stand that will have that luxury, meaning that it’ll be a right pain in the same posterior trying to get multiple tickets, including ones for kids and so forth.

Then there’s the location, which doesn’t suit either Leitrim (if Leitrim it is – according to this Mayo News report, London are apparently happy to come to Castlebar if they make the final) or ourselves. Manorhamilton to Castlebar, for example, is seventy miles whereas it’s over 100 to Salthill. From Carrick, the AA calculate that it’d take you two hours to reach Salthill whereas they estimate you’d be in Castlebar thirty minutes ahead of this.

But those times don’t include the monumental pain in the hole that involves negotiating your way through the million and one roundabouts that ring Galway as you snake your tortuous way to Salthill. And don’t get me going on the difficulties you’re likely to face in trying to extricate yourself from the city afterwards. By contrast, Castlebar is a doddle to get into and out of.

I know, I know – Pearse Stadium is the only neutral venue in Connacht with the required capacity to stage the final and if that’s where the jumpers decide we have to go, then that’s where we’ll have to go (and, unlike the last two years, I’ll be back from hols in time to be there this year). But it’ll make no sense at all at all if that’s the venue they choose. Even the local residents don’t like matches taking place there.

By the way, should London pull off another shock and make it through to the final, then the wags will no doubt be championing Anfield or Old Trafford as acceptable half-way venues but I’ve a better idea. I reckon that Croke Park – which isn’t down to host any matches that weekend – would make far more sense: I’m sure the London lads would love to get a taste of HQ and I’d say Leitrim wouldn’t be averse to it either. So if McHale Park falls as an option due to the neutrality issue then Croker it’s got to be. Sure aren’t we going to be camped back there in August anyway?

62 thoughts on “Castlebar is the only sensible choice for the Connacht final

  1. If not McHale park why not Tuam ??? Pearce stadium awful as is Sligo Tuam I say if not Mchale park ….

  2. If Roscommon can’t hold a Connacht Final because of it doesn’t meet the requirements of the Slattery report, then there’s not a hope in hell that Tuam can!

    If I was a member of Leitrim mgmt, I’d make damn sure the Leitrim Co Board insisted it be played in Salthill, not Castlebar. And they’d have all the rights on their side, they are entitled to have it at a neutral venue.
    It suits us to have it in McHale Park and it suits the Connacht Council because the attendance would be very poor in Pearse Stadium, but you can’t blame Leitrim for doing what’s best for their team.

  3. If I was London or leitrim management i would go with castlebar. Salt hill is a nightmare venue, really terrible place for a stadium. They should have sold it and built a proper place out in the open when the going was good
    Mchale park is closer to Leitrim and near knock airport for London. Neither are expecting to shock Mayo so they will just go where it’s easier for themselves.
    London could win this one, I have a feeling about it. That Sligo game will have lifted them a lot
    How’s mayos injured lads doing? Is Andy ok? Did anyone notice anything on Sunday about his movement.?

  4. London v Mayo will be played in MacHale park as no agreement with London.

    Leitrim v Mayo will be played in Salthill as they have the choice and will hardly give Mayo a home final especially after the 22 point defeat last year.

    A busy Galway city in July won’t come into it. If it was Galway v Mayo final their would be no debate on the final venue.

  5. It’s seems like a wrong choice , how many will travel from either county? Home venue for mayo would mean more Leitrim people would go, they know that they won’t stop mayo so why pretend going to Galway will help in any way. London would be happy to be in the final anyway, it’s their big day.
    Mchale park is my bet

  6. Throw Leitrim a few quid, have it in castlebar, 20k att have a good day out.

    Have it anywhere else, you’re looking at nearer 12k att, shit day.

    Its such a bloody mess the provincial championship, no disrespect to anyone but it just cant go on, the hotels are booked in Dublin for August weekend and there will not be one mayo person looking to cancel.

  7. 20k attendance? I dont think so. Everyone I spoke to said they are not going to the final as they expect no contest. Now I dont agree with that thinking. I think Leitrim will win the semi final and they will put up a decent show. Many loyal supporters will not go to the final. This is a pity as the Connaught council do great work at club level and the money lost will result in some club suffering somewhere!

  8. Maybe not, i can’t predict say with confidence what people will do but i would say with great confidence less will go to Salthill than Castlebar.

  9. Leitrim will bring 8 to 10k to the final regardless where it is and remember if they reach it this will be their first senior Connacht final since 2000. You must also take the minor final into account if Roscommon reach it they will bring a decent crowd likewise with Galway minors, though they won’t travel to MacHale park.

  10. I think Castlebar should be choice but Croke Park interesting idea.

    In relation to Martin Carney and Kevin McStay they may be decent people but they are woeful analysts.McStay tells you what you can see and Carney sits on fence.They do not analyse.
    O Mahony was great first time around with Mayo…second time we all know what happened.

    I think win or lose Horan is a focused and imaginative manager.

  11. As I live and work in Leitrim and know a few local GAA foke the general vibe seems to be a preference for McHale Park. So much nearer – travelling all the way to Galway does not appeal to them. All this depends on them beating London of course and with three of their regular team suspended this will be an interesting game in Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada.

    Like London i’m sure, they accept they don’t have a hope in hell of causing an upset against Mayo. They are however a proud bunch and will give it all, if only like Roscommon for first 15mins before falling away to the much publicised gulf in class that is Divison 1 football.

    Croker, not a bad idea.. very handy on train from Carrick to Connelly

  12. If it was in stade de France I’ll be at it! What Castlebar doesn’t have and all other grounds do is reserved seating for season ticket holders. Disappointing as it takes me over an hour on match day to get there! Reserved seating shouldn’t be an issue for a recently excellently renovated ground! And on another note when did we ever see the high flyers in gaa ever making right decisions,they put our league semi final on at 345 when the two teams that played before us would have been home in an hour!!!!! Common sense doesn’t usually prevail! Going by this it will more than likely be Galway even though the right decision for all would be Castlebar! Lastly if the Connaught council had any brain they’d pick the ground to host the final when the draw is done and just rotate between grounds that meet slattery’s criteria on an annual basis!

  13. Clearly McHale Park is the sensible choice here. But longer term, with the Hyde now out of the equation, it’s time to discard the current agreement which dates from the 90s as it is no longer fit for purpose. If the agreement remains then we will only ever have Connacht finals in Castlebar when we play Galway – against every other team we would have to go to Salthill. I think it’s fair to say that we’ll be in a lot of Connacht Finals in the next few years with this team – to have to go to Salthill almost every year would be ridiculous.

    As well as that, anyone who listened to the Mayo News podcast last week will have heard John Prenty hoping for a drawn game somewhere along the line as a badly needed boost to the Connacht Council’s coffers. Money talks and neutral venues reduce attendances and income. At present, every Connacht Final permutation other than Mayo v Galway would have to be played at a neutral venue and there hasn’t been a Mayo v Galway Connacht Final yet this decade. This is not the way to go.

    Instead, this is the replacement system for Connacht Final venues I would propose:

    – The Mayo/Galway rotation agreement to remain in place
    – All Connacht Finals involving Galway but not Mayo to be held in Salthill
    – All Connacht Finals involving Mayo but not Galway to be held in Castlebar
    – All Connacht Finals involving neither Mayo or Galway to be held in Castlebar (for geographical reasons – this only happens roughly once every 50 years anyway)

    This would be far better in financial terms for the Connacht Council and would ensure a much better attendance and atmosphere on match day than having everyone traipsing to a neutral venue as happened last year.

  14. Declan, i totally agree with you but i do think the other counties bar ourselves and Galway might not agree.

  15. Logic says Castlebar. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the nightmare Claregalway can be esp. if you are trying to get there early. So many times I have cut across country to the Headford Road. As I now usually take the Rocommon road to Galway I now cut off at Abbeyknockmoy to the Monivea road.
    I’m told it was commercial decisions and pressure from Gaway/Salthill business which led to Salthill being developed as the main Galway ground.
    Castlebar is by far the best ground in Connacht both from the access and comfort point of view and if Leinster [and all other] counties can agree to play all Dublin games at Croke Park I do not see why Connacht counties could not agree on Castlebar as a regular Connacht Final venue. Commercial, loss of business, anybody?

  16. Not surprising that most people on this blog including myself believe McHale Park is the place for the Connacht final full stop. A neutral venue boosts the crowd full stop, I was surprised to see a quote that the Connacht council are only expecting 10,000 at the Connacht final. Not sure how they come to that estimate as out of the almost 20,000 at the match on Sunday last there were in my humble opinion at least 15,500 thousand of those Mayo fans.

    A Connacht final in Castlebar would draw about 20,000 if Mayo v Leitrim and probably 18,000 for a Mayo v London contest. Remember there is a bit of history in the making as it will be the first time since 1951 that Mayo will be in a position to win 3 in a row….

    However holding the final in Salthill will probably reduce the numbers attending to 10,000 to 12,000. Money usually talks so it will be a very interesting decision and let’s face it although swamped by debt, McHale park is by far the best venue in Connacht by a mile from a capacity and access viewpoint and is underused.

    In addition you could boost the crowd by reducing the prices really 20 euros is way more than enough for this particular Connacht final and they should let all under 16’s in for free. Now we just have to go and win it.

  17. I know Sean – but it’s now time for Mayo and Galway to stop travelling around the province just to please teams who are unable to develop their own grounds to the standard required. We have two fine stadiums in the Connacht now – and that is largely thanks to the GAA organisations in Mayo and Galway. Sligo and Leitrim have developed smaller capacity grounds which are more suited to their own league and championship/qualifier games and Roscommon have let theirs fall to wreck and ruin. It is time to look at ways of getting the two main grounds as full as possible on match day. Continuing with a system that forces the best supported teams to travel longer distances to games is counter productive – this needs to be stopped.

  18. Mayomagic makes a good point above about the minor final.
    If Galway reached that final, surely they would have serious objections to playing this in Castlebar rather than at home in Salthill.
    Either way, it looks like the minor final is not even being taken into consideration, as the decision is to be made before the minor semis are even played.

    Saying that, if London win on Sunday I think the final should be played in Ruislip (absolutely nothing to do with the fact I live in London of course – Wembley’s only a 10 minute bus ride away as well, so always that option too!)

  19. And just to expand on Declan’s idea, what about a compromise for Ros/Sligo/Leitrim if that came to pass – say an agreement from Mayo and Galway to play any Connacht QF’s or SF’s at their ground?

  20. With Hyde park out of the running for a few years Galway v Roscommon,Sligo v Galway finals will also be held in MacHale park. Leitrim are due a home game against Mayo and the fact Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada isn’t big enough to host a final we have the choice to choose a neutral the venue. It would have been Dr Hyde Park and the
    sensible option is not to give Mayo a home final, a day at the seaside will be good for all of us Galway city is better craic than auld Castlebar.

    If Mayo want a home final they better hope London win on Sunday.

  21. Dan – the minor final has always been an add on to the main event, it has never had any bearing on where the fixture is played. Sometimes that works for you, sometimes against – as was the case with us playing Roscommom in the Hyde last year. It’s just down to the luck of the draw – both teams progress to the quarter finals these days anyway.

  22. Yes, that would be the right way to go, in cases where teams have to travel to Castlebar to play Mayo in a final or to Salthill to play Galway in a final then the next non-final meeting between the teams would be held at the other team’s home ground.

    Can’t say fairer than that!

  23. Lads, it’s absolutely outrageous to say it should be in castlebar and plainly unfair. Leitrim had to travel to castlebar to play us last year. It would be totally wrong to make them do that again. Whatever argument you could have made about Sligo last year when it was our turn to host them, this one should be in salthill if carrick cant hold it.

  24. As John Cuffe might say, this year is an outlier, where Leitrim or London will contest a Connacht Final. So responding to Declan’s suggestion above, I’m looking at it from the Roscommon and Sligo points of view, who would harbour serious enough ambitions of clinching a provincial title. Lord knows, Sligo got close enough last year.

    Lets do a round up of the provinces: Clones traditionally hosts the final in Ulster, and Casement is due to replace that when it is renovated. All semis in Ulster are played at neutral venues. Croke Park traditionally hosts the final in Leinster, and now seemingly half the other matches too. Down in Munster, they use the 4 massive stadiums in Limerick, Cork, Killarney and Thurles, and seem to operate agreements.

    Every province does their own thing – however, people are happy to always have Clones because Monaghan rarely get to an Ulster Final, nor will Antrim. People are happy to play in Croke Park because it is Croke Park. Munster are happy to keep swopping because there is a high probability that they will have a home Munster Final every couple of years.

    However, I can’t imagine the teams in Roscommon and Sligo would be happy to always have their final opponent Mayo (or Galway), have home advantage in a Connacht Final. Which is their first priority: to win, or for fans to have an easy day?

    If I was them, I wouldn’t do anything which even slightly negatively affected their chances in a Connacht Final. (Even though Castlebar is the best stadium, even with the disgraceful poles)

  25. Just on an aside. An Spailpín has a fantastic piece on the blog in the aftermath of the Mayo Ros match.

  26. Ah lads use wont have to worry about salthill, because london is gonna beat leitrim and conn. final will be mchale park. I backed london to beat the magpies and am doing so again to bate lovely leitrim…… Its time they the conn council or mayo county board got rid of that arrangement anyways are we may not see a conn. final in castlebar for years to come after this year……..

  27. johno mo on tour good for you but not only would Leitrim have beaten Sligo again they will beat London on Sunday. Leitrim’s form since the New york game is very good including a big win over Armagh.

    So we should get rid of agreement because Mayo want all finals in MacHale park? you don’t need a final for big crowds, was close to 20k at your semi final on Sunday and you will get likewise when drawn against Galway again.

    @ Peter good post.

  28. Leitrim would be crazy to opt for McHale Pk!…

    A few comments on parking around Salthill..there is plenty of it, prob for most Mayo fans (and anyone not from the city) is that they don’t know where the best places are, they follow the main routes..and dont know the short cuts to avoid the heavy traffic….. and on the point of millions of roundabouts….there are only 3 roundabouts for anyone coming from Mayo driving to Salthill…1.Headford Road, 2. Just before you cross the bridge and 3…once youre over the bridge at the back of the uchg. There are as many roundabout goin to the hyde!!!!

    I dont care where the final is played cos we’re gonna win it.

    If I were a Leitrim fan (on the mild assumption that they win) the last place id wanna go is C’bar, i’d probably make a weekend of it and head to Galway for a night or two. Who knows when they’ll be back in a Final that doesn’t begin with FBD. They would also be more likely to make a better game of it in Pearse Stadium.

  29. I want all games involving Mayo in Connacht on an alternative arrangement with all other counties.This arrangement works fine and that damn slattery report is bloody useless , the Louth v Wexford game was a sell out a few weeks ago, did you see the state of the ground, it looked half empty because of the reduced capacity malarkey.

    Health and safety doesn’t half go overboard nowadays. I remember an aul timer saying to me one day when we were working on a gas pipe line, ” look at all the safety officers and reps, we have here, there was none of that 40years ago and there wasn’t half the accidents or mistakes”.

    So what we are looking at here now is the only CF we will have involving Mayo at McHale park for the foreseeable future will be v Galway every other time. Thats not good enough, there has been too much investment in Castlebar , the stand still needs paying for. If your ground is not good enough to hold a final, you should have to concede home advantage , end of story, harsh but such is life.

  30. Why the hell would the Leitrim team and management want to play in castlebar? That would be plain daft from their point of view, to play it there the connaught council would need a better reason than inconveniencing poor mayo fans having to travel to salthill. If its London and they are happy to come to castlebar then fair enough, but then their team is effectively saying “we haven’t a hope here lads so let’s just enjoy the day out”. I’d be amazed if that was the attitude of either side, at the end of the day they are senior inter county players training just as hard as our boys, and they will believe they can beat mayo, even if no one else does. As for the crowd size and finances, well none of the teams involved will give a damn about the Connaught councils finances, they will only care about winning.

    This is a wider point, but related to this game also. The gaa is still charging way too much for tickets. Crowds have been dropping steadily for the last 7 or 8 years but we have had very few drops in ticket prices while AI final tickets have risen despite the recession. Surely a crowd of 25,000 paying €10 each is better than a crowd of 12,000 paying €20 each. Lets u18s and OAPs in free too for good measure. Much better atmosphere, better advertisement for the gaa than having masses of empty seats, it looks awful on tv especially. If it continues you’ll do well to see more than 12,000 at a mayo v Galway championship game. Equivalent games ten years ago were attracting crowds of 30,000 plus, I remember going to mayo games in late 90s early 2000s you would be struggling to get a seat in mchale park, tuam, hyde park, even against roscommon. No such problems nowadays. Look at Munster hurling championship, suposedly the crown jewel in the gaa’s provincial championship structure. Same story down there, masses of empty terraces. The gaa as a whole have nothing to lose by slashing ticket prices. I know the recession has affected people, but there is still just as much interest in gaa as there was ten years ago. If the price is right, people will go. The German bundesliga is the best supported league in Europe, massive crowds at every game, why? because you can buy season tickets for about 20% of the price of premiership ones.

  31. Leitrim lad , i am not saying that all conn. finals shoud be in castlebar, what i,m saying is that it should go back alternative arrangment with every county and thats the fairest way whether or not other countys can compete or not ,its up to them , at the end of the day its not that long ago that leitrim beat mayo in a conn. final and at the end of the day it starts with 15 against 15, we shoud,t have to wait until its galway to have a conn. final in castlebar thats all i,m saying and hope that will be looked at after this chapionship. Also i cannot see why county grounds at yourselfs, sligo an ross. cannot be brought up to standards and at least accomadate 20,000, that woud solve the issue.

  32. If that were true about money being the issue (aussie exile) i’d agree with you but it would not make such a difference , not on your nellie.

    Have to laugh when i hear people go on about the money issue, these are mainly guys who will spend the day in their local boozer spending up to to 100 euro watching the game, it just a complete nonsense to say its money imo. You try bringing a couple of kids and an adult to an EPL game for thirty euro entrance fee, it wouldn’t cover a fraction of the cost. GAA games are value for money, nobody can dispute that.(imo)

    The german example you give , how many games a year do they have? Honestly there is no excuse about money, if you want to support Mayo and are even on the dole, you can go, sin e.

  33. Mayaze, the problem with salthill is not parking, they,d nearly let you park below in the claddagh anyways, cause it suits and they have no choice but to let you park were ever you want literally, its getting out of the damn place and it dosent matter what route you take you,ll get caught, its over 2 hour to castlebar wat evre way you look at it and what about all from north mayo and my own townies in the mullet….Tuam shoud have been upgraded at the time and i,m thinking they regret that now in galway, espec. the football folk…………..

  34. @ sean burke; Well then why are attendances dropped so much the last few years? If its not because of money is it because people just are not interested in Gaelic games anymore? I refuse to believe that. Bit of a coincidence that as soon as Ireland went belly up economically around 2008, attendances started to slump. Remember when Dublin had 82,000 in for leinster first round games against Westmeath/ wexford etc. A few weeks ago there was about 35,000 there (and It was a double header with offaly/kildare). Are all the fans who were attending those matches a few years ago in the local boozers spending EUR100 watching the games on tv?? Or are they just at home on their couches watching the games with their families because they cant afford to go. I think the latter is far more likely. I’m not saying attendances could go back to the same levels if tickets were cheaper, because most people obviously have much less disposable income than a few years ago, but it sure would help. They need to do something, market the games and players better or something because attendances are falling steadily each year, and will continue to do so, and its sad to see.

    As for building 20,000+ capacity modern stadiums in Sligo/ Leitrim to host Connaught finals?? Don’t make me laugh, more white elephants that would be filled to capacity once every ten years and cost a fortune to build, there is enough of them around the country already.

  35. If London reach the final we should play it in London because of the occasion.

  36. As a Mayo native camped in Galway for the last decade or so, I know only too well all about the roundabouts and cross city travelling. However, for the Mayo v Galway game, a park and ride bus operated from Carnmore airport to within a 10 minute walk of Pearse Stadium. This may be a deciding factor when the “Jumpers” (love that description!!) decide on the final venue.

    Somebody mentioned having a Connaught Final in Croke Park… a nice idea if the opposition is London. However, from a return to value ratio, Croke Park need between 35,000 to 40,000 to make the day profitable and the take home pay for the Connaught council will be much less than what they would get if the game is in Castlebar or Salthill.

    Good luck to the Mayo lads on the London team.

  37. Jaysus lads it’s a great luxury to be arguing over where the Connacht Final will be played and to know that if they played it on the moon we’d still win pullin’ up.

    I can’t see Leitrim, if they win, agreeing to Castlebar ( maybe we should offer to make a donation from the enhanced gate towards a team holiday for them ?) so if that happens lads pack yere buckets and spades for a day by the seaside. It’s either that or hope that London turn them over.

    In any case we should turn out in big numbers to support this wonderful team ( 1950 since we won 3 in a row ) and to show our appreciation for their huge efforts and for restoring pride in Mayo football.

  38. I don’t believe it to be the ultimate factor thats all i’m saying. My examples are real life, people choose to sit in their local spending up to 100 euro and over rather than get off their backside and go to the game and then say ”its too expensive” .

    Of course there is stats to say there was big crowds in the boom and not now but what were they like in the eighties? I honestly don’t know what they were exactly but my memory tells me grounds were full when i was growing up.

    I just think money is an excuse in a lot of cases. The drink culture has a lot to answer for (and im a drinker) , my aul fella has proved this to me in the past. “ahh christ you’d want a good few hundred for q/f weekend ” no you don’t if you just want to see the football but our culture leads us to believe you do.

    At the end of the it’s Mayos following that is the only concern to me and our following is good, it has picked up since the dismal showing in the q/f last year v Down and i believe a lot of supporters are coming back and buying into this teams spirit.

    The provincial final is a bit of a disaster now for marketing , its a 1/50 shot Mayo win, i doubt there has ever been a more certain victor. There are probably a few supporters thinking, i’ll just save my money for q/f weekend , the ones who travel from Dublin or England or elsewhere maybe might question coming but i can’t see it being an issue for anyone in Mayo who usually go, i could be wrong too, sure we’ll have to wait and see.

    You say no to Sligo/Ross/leitrim building there stadia up to scratch, fair enough. Whats your answer to CF venues or even semis now for that matter as there was 19, 800 approx at game on sunday, this would mean neither of the three could of held it. There could be a right dilemma developing here tbh.

  39. I want to commend the supporters for turning out in the first place. Longest day of the year soon and apart from New York everybody is still in the championship. In theory everyone has a chance still to win Sam. Realistically five/six have any hope. The championship as currently constructed is a busted flush.

    It made its name that on a given day a big gun could be taken out …permanently for that year. That’s how we made heroes. Any one recall the 2001 Connacht champions? Roscommon who took out Galway and Mayo only to run into Galway again at the QF stage. I forget who won Ulster in 2008 but Tyrone won the All Ireland that year.

    For me the championship starts at QFs in August. The rest is lip service to say that everybody gets a crack at a big day. Soon those back door games will come and pass like melting snow until four remain to lock horns with the front door boys. Its a sham and like the dummy teams that try and make the followers into dummies as well …its one big bore.

    Mayo are the team of the moment. The media are like carrion hoovering above them…all positive stuff because the rest of the damn thing is one bore across the provinces. That folks should wake all up. Mayo beat Roscommon and Galway and its like the discovery of the lost scrolls. Hey…they did the same over the last three seasons including a scourging at the post on the Rossies in 2009. And so we trundle on. Sometime in mid or late July we will saunter on to some Connacht field and fulfill our duty. After that the championship will start and sadly it will be contested by only eight teams. How the hell did that happen?

  40. Look it, Mayo are one of the best supported counties in Ireland. They nearly always have been. I remember going down to Laois when we were a division 3 team and I was far from being the only Mayo man there. Through thick and thin, and lord knows that if any supporters had an excuse to stay at home down the years it would have been us, we have always turned out. There was an attendance of 18,500 in Salthill and by my rough estimation we outnumbered Galway 2:1 on their own back door. Just shy of 20,000 on Sunday against a division 3 side that we were all fairly confident we would beat. I believe it doesn’t matter where Mayo are to play the final, we will travel in big numbers regardless.
    I think that Leitrim/London should have the final say as to where the final will be played and if they are happy to play at McHale Park then so be it. All of the arguments above are interesting and valid but a common sense approach would be this. Firstly, it will be cheaper for both sets of supporters to go to Castlebar as opposed to Salthill. Secondly, a shorter journey time with less traffic on the road will make it safer. Thirdly, because of both of the above you have a better chance of a bigger turnout at McHale Park and therefore a better atmosphere. I am sure if Leitrim/London were compensated financially in some way they may think strongly about going to McHale Park.
    However, even though we will be red hot favourites and almost certaintities to go through, the opposition are fully entitled to demand that the rules be applied.

  41. Yeah the stadium discussion is interesting, I think it could be worth spending a few quid on Hyde park as Roscommon is a county which does get big crowds if the team is doing well, a 25,000 capacity stadium with modern TERRACES, not expensive all seater stands could be feasible. That’s obviously the Roscommon county boards decision to make. Likewise Sligo and marcevicz park, could possibly be upgraded economically enough without building a big 8,000 seater stand which would never be full. I’m not against modernising county grounds, but far too many small counties have build big stands which I would guess cost far more than decent terraces (like the ones at pearse stadium, for example) that are rarely full and probably result in mountains of debt for the counties concerned.

    Your right about the drink culture to an extent, but I don’t think its anything like soccer or rugby where far more supporters drink as part of attending a match, the bedrock of GAA support in my opinion was always country people, families etc, travelling with their kids for a day out in whatever town the team happened to be playing in, and its these type of people who I believe are choosing not to go nowadays due mainly to financial constraints, not just the price of tickets but also petrol, food etc for the whole family. It can run into hundreds of euro, and i’m not saying cheaper tickets would solve this but it would help.

    Regarding marketing of games, well the GAA have made strides in recent years but in truth are amateurs when it comes to promoting their games, in comparison to other sports. In my view the most marketable commodities are the players, and they are totally under-used by the organisation. Id wager half the primary school kids in Ireland would not recognise Henry Shefflin or Colm Cooper if you showed them a photo, despite both being arguably amongst our greatest ever sportspeople. Show them a picture of some overpaid EPL soccer player like Fernando Torres or Andy Carroll and they would all know who he is.

    RTE have a lot to answer for too everytime I watch it the analysts are complaining about something, and rarely have anything positive to say about our games. Switch on Sky sports and you’ll here them raving about a meaningless 0-0 draw between Wigan and Bolton. Like everything there is a balance to be found and I certainly think RTEs GAA coverage leaves a lot to be desired at times. Here in Australia, the AFL is marketed to saturation point and beyond in the Australian media, even more than the Premier league. The players are superstars within the country, regarded as by far the biggest sports stars in the AFL states, and the crowds are massive every week, often over 90,000 for round robin league games. All this despite AFL being a much inferior product to Gaelic football and hurling, in my humble opinion. I feel this is an area the GAA could do so much more in, the players should be the centre of attention during the summer, and we should hear far more from them, not Pat, Colm and Joe’s pantomime show every sunday. Anyways im gone slightly off topic but you get my drift!

  42. 2 points, clearly Tuam Stadium was the place to redevelop, not Pearse Stadium which whatever about the fans logistics, from a players perspective has always been a sh*t pitch. Tuam is in the Galway football heartland and is a great pitch.

    Attendance’s are down because the back door solution clearly was a screw up. Its one of those decisions that seemed grand at the time but the real impact is seen long term.

    bring back the knock out, anyone who loses goes into an open draw B All Ireland to be played before the senior final. Sorry for the minors but move that to the day before or something (ticket wise you couldnt play that the day of the final as you potentially would have 6 counties vieing for final tickets). That way, you lose once, you cant win Sam.
    I guarantee you attendance’s and excitement would be back up the year after.
    B Championship gives players that second game every season which was the main reason the back door was introduced. It’d be considered gammy at first but it would grow its own prestige over time.
    Things were heading that way with the Tommy Murphy cup until they decided to knock it on its head. Declan Browne, a fine footballer, described winning it with Tipp in Croker as the best day of his illustrious career.

  43. eastcorkexile sorry but i think your wrong, the result of a B All Ireland is teams like Cork beatin by Kerry, Tyrone beating by Donegal and Kildare beating by Dublin winning the B title, not the smaller counties which would be the hope as the bigger teams will still be competing, also it would never have any meaning as the provincials would be more prestigous, and any team that wins it would be dissapointed they got knocked out in the first place so it would be seen as a dissapointment of a year, at least thats my opinion.

  44. Hello Tom. Yes, but the lesser teams are never going to win the all ireland anyway, much like the likes of the FA cup there IS a chance they could at least get to a B final and maybe win it. As its open draw and knock out shocks and upsets will happen over the year. In professional soccer teams from lower divisions then the big spending, premier league teams have either won it or come very close. This is an amateur sport, that would have to happen over time.
    Anway, the current solution doesnt allow smaller counties any better chance of winning, thats not the problem we’re trying to solve, the criteria is to get some excitement back into the championship before the quarters, give every team a season of at least two games, and ideally have cumulative attendance’s at least the same as they are now and hopefully increase them.

  45. Isle of man is the most neutral venue if it’s mayo v london. Mr slattery better jump on a plane or boat and check it out!!!

  46. I’ve just been telling Dagmar my German girlfriend.I think London have a great chance for a result v Leitrim in the cauldern of Carrik on Shannon, We will play for a draw and win the replay in Ruislip. Mayo hopefully will get quite a lot of injuries and flues before the grand final in Castlebar. It will be a titanic battle like it was in 2011 and I can see extra time needed. My Dad has just being telling me when he was a boy he used to live on the island of Achill. He had some great times there and now i am a lunatic supporter of the green and red boys. I am planning to bring his ashes home to the connaught final. Our Boys are working hard and we dont really care where the match will be played as long as the weather is good. I am a great fan of Cilllian O Conner its a pity he got a ‘knock’ . Refereeing will be very important on the day. It could be a deciding factory. We need to stay close to Leitrim in the first 25mins

  47. Tuam is a dump…! The reason Pearse Stadium is harder to get to than anywhere else in Connacht is because its in a city!!! Croke Park, Pairc Ui Caoimh, the Gaelic Grounds in Limerock?? The latter is relatively easy to get to if youre coming from the Clare side but not if youre from east of south Limerick – so youre never gonna please everyone!

    But the Galway co board were right to focus on the city. Why? Because there is more to county galway that the north of it. There’s everywhere west of the corrib.
    Then don’t forget the hurling areas…they don’t even know how to get to tuam. Yeah they have athenry but the GAA cant be spending money on the redevelopment of two stadia and importantly they are trying to promote the games in the city and therefore a city stadium makes sense. It’s central for Galway fans, maybe not for people travelling from north Mayo etc.

  48. Change the structure of the League and it will lead to better competition in the championship. The way things stand now Div1 teams are miles ahead of the rest of the country.
    If they were split up in the League and allowed to play weaker counties then the weaker counties would get a feel for what it takes to play against a top team.
    They may not win but they would be better organised for the championship when they meet a top team and the hammerings we have seen so far would become rarer.

  49. It’s Ms Slattery, Wensam Suun! By the way, I’ve had to go over to the Isle of Man a few times for work this year and from what I gather the main football stadium over there (such as it is) holds no more than 3,000 souls. The more I think of it, the Croke Park option sounds better and better.

  50. I suggested HQ a week or two ago, its a win win for both I think. London will get an opportunity to play on the grandest of stages and for mayo, a chance to fine tune their skills for thd August weekend.

  51. Apologies willie Joe. Croker would be a cracker but try and convince the gaa heads!!!!!

  52. @ jpm

    The league was split over a decade ago i think the current format has become stale. Div 2,3,4 titles matter little i think the league should go back to the old days of games in november and one league one winner.

  53. Call me daft but i don’t get the croker thing, is it a joke that i’m not catchin onto.

  54. Pearce stadium was a dump too until it was done up,the city was and always be a scoccer and rugby town so it wont matter much to the gaa. It does not benefit either code much as hurl. is more or less to the south and football to the north. i do not believe its central, if it were over the tuam road side or claregalway side you coud argue the case, as for north mayo a stor, we could be talking here about leitrim, sligo or indeed most of roscommon When it was being built there was controv. over it in the county and vented interests were mentioned to me on a few occasions by galway men of both codes and i dont believe they had the business comm. or indeed the people of salthill at the top off their agenda.It certainly is,t central to galway fans either when its as far west of the city as you can get and a nightmare for most of their fans in both codes to get out of as well and i would say have an impact on a lot of people goin to salthill from all 5 countys for a match ……Even the dogs in the street know that….lol

  55. Leitrimlad you are wrong about the league. The current format is excellent. Matches played on better pitches and more competitive. For counties to thrive they need to ensure that they get to as high a division as possible and get playing competitive games against better class opposition. No point in Carlow playing Kerry. I even think the provincial cup competitions are good. Provide decent organised games for stronger counties and gives weaker counties an opportunity to pick up silverware (Leitrim – FBD). Also gives squad players a chance to make an impression.

  56. Develop Tuam – Hotels,accommodation in this modern day and age – No. The mistake Galway Co. Board made was to develop facilities at Oranmore or Claregalway. When Pearse Stadium was being developed the Co. Board should have sold the grounds for development. At that time they would have received 90% of the cost of a new Stadium. No point in developing Tuam now. One of our correspondents refers to it as a dump – that is unfair.

  57. @ Sinabhuil says:

    I disagree the current format is far from excellent. Pitches aren’t much different in november than Feb or March, All the current league format is doing is making the strong side stronger when it should be used to bring others closer together.

    In Leitrim we still talk about the 1994 Connacht title but trust me in a year or two nobody will be talking about FBD title same goes for div 3,4 title if we ever happen to win it.

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