There’s been a lively enough debate on here since I first suggested on Saturday evening, in the wake of Galway’s shock defeat to Sligo, that should we beat Leitrim in our semi the final would then be in Castlebar. Others more in the know were quick to point out that this may not be the case and this report in the Mayo News shows that they were 100% correct in this regard. This report confirms that if we’re in the final it’s almost certain to be played at Roscommon’s Hyde Park.
This is because there’s an agreement amongst the counties dating back to 1997 to the effect that any Connacht final involving Sligo or Leitrim (or both, which could still happen this year) has to be played at a neutral venue where the capacity is at least 20,000. Neither Markievicz Park nor Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada are capable of holding that many souls so this leaves the choice between McHale Park, Pearse Stadium or Hyde Park.
A further twist to the agreement is that if it’s us against Sligo then we get to pick and in such circumstances I can’t see us plumping for the delights of the seaside on July 15th. If Leitrim manage to pull off another Connacht shocker then they get to choose the final venue and, given the novelty of such a final pairing, they might opt for our gaff – with its higher capacity – for the decider. McHale Park was, after all, the neutral venue for the 2010 Connacht final against Roscommon and Sligo, which, by the way, remains the only big championship match hosted at the venue since the redevelopment work was done on it.
However, with our lads still priced at 1/33 to do the business against the Ridge County on Sunday week, the odds on a second successive Connacht final being held in Hyde Park are surely short enough too. Not that we’re counting any chickens yet, mind.