All the talk at the moment is focused on the very impressive playing conditions under the Air Dome at the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence – where our inter-county season gets going this coming Friday in the FBD League against Galway – but the venue for our Connacht Championship quarter-final meeting with the Tribesmen in late April is in the news today as well.
That provincial opener has been fixed for MacHale Park on Sunday, 24th April, but Mike Finnerty reports in the Irish Examiner today (here) that it’s not certain if the Castlebar venue will be ready by then. It was announced at a recent County Board meeting that 1st May has been set as the target date for completion of the pitch redevelopment works.
In an accompanying piece in this week’s Mayo News (paper and digital editions), Mike expands on the issue, stating that it’s understood the weather between now and late April will have a large bearing on whether or not the re-seeded pitch will be ready to play Championship football on. It was decided to go this route for the new pitch, rather than rolling out pre-grown turf, and this option, while less expensive, obviously takes longer.
If MacHale Park isn’t ready to host the fixture then it’s up to the two counties to agree what to do. It’s a home game for us but we could agree to let Galway host it or else we could agree to play it elsewhere. If the decision is to opt for a neutral venue Hyde Park is the only other Connacht ground that would be capable of hosting the fixture, with Croke Park another possible option for a game that is likely to draw a large attendance.