MacHale Park or Pearse Stadium for the Connacht final

MacHale Park Connacht final 2013

This has, I know, been debated a bit already in the comments but it’s worth confirming that this year’s Connacht final will either be played at MacHale Park or at Pearse Stadium. Which one it is depends on the outcome of tomorrow evening’s semi-final between Galway and Sligo: if the former come through then, by virtue of our home-and-away arrangement with the Tribesmen, it’ll be in Castlebar but if the Yeats County make it then it’s their right to opt for a neutral venue, in which case the match would have to be played in Salthill.

This is because only MacHale Park and Pearse Stadium currently fit the bill as regards the kind of 21st century facilities and capacity required to stage provincial finals. Hyde Park used to be in this category too – with 2012 the most recent provincial decider to be held there – but anyone who sampled the rudimentary facilities at the Roscommon venue the last day, Portaloos included, wouldn’t need too much persuading about whether or not it’s up to hosting a Connacht final.

So, if it’s us (or Galway) up against Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim or, as was the case last year, London in the decider, they have the right to insist that the match is played at a neutral venue. London could, by virtue of this, have gotten us all to traipse over to Salthill last July but seeing as they’d most of their own traipsing done by the time they’d crossed the Shannon they wisely opted for Castlebar instead. Sligo could, of course, do the same but it’s also their right to send us to that traffic-infested hole by the sea if they want to as well.

It’s worth noting that no home-and-away arrangement works in this instance nor does any “It’s my turn to choose which venue it is” either. If it’s us v Sligo ten years on the trot then each and every year they can either insist on the game going to a neutral venue or opt to let it be played at MacHale Park. We don’t have any say in the matter.

That’s all find and dandy and we’ll play wherever we’re told to play. Which is, of course, what the Dubs always say when the issue of perpetual home advantage is put to them (that and that other nonsense about Parnell Park being their home venue with Croker only a neutral location).

On that note, it’s interesting to contrast how and where the Leinster Council schedule matches in their provincial championship compared with how our lot do. The Leinster Council make no bones at all about their policy – recently enunciated at the launch of the Leinster championship some weeks back – that Dublin should play all their games, not just finals, at Croke Park. It’s worth further noting that this is a decision freely entered into by all Leinster counties (turkeys voting for Christmas or what?) so it’s not as if the Dubs are refusing to come out and play. It’s simply that their provincial competitors aren’t requiring them to do so.

Can you imagine our neighbours in Connacht voting to let us play every single Connacht championship match we’re involved in from here ’till eternity in MacHale Park (which is, don’t you know, the only all-seater GAA stadium in the country and whose capacity of 42,000 is well in excess of Pearse Stadium’s puny 26k, most of them standing)? No, neither can I.

For what it’s worth, I think it’ll all be a moot point for this year come tomorrow evening as I’d expect Galway to have enough in the tank to see off Sligo and book their first Connacht final appearance since 2009. But it is an issue that’s going to keep coming up and no doubt will do so again (involving either us or Galway) at some point around this time next year.

24 thoughts on “MacHale Park or Pearse Stadium for the Connacht final

  1. I was thinking alright that only McHale and Pearse can hold Connacht finals. If Sligo do beat Galway I can see a bit of an “incentive” to play in McHale! As bad as Pearse is with traffic, its far far better than that kip up in Roscommon.

  2. Apologies WJ ,I have that wrong,Was given a bit of a tour of the place when it was nearly finished by Joe Connolly around 2002 and i thought that what he said.I’ve always thought that to be the capacity,just did a bit of checking online and it is indeed around the 26k mark.

    Mchale park would have been 41,500 if they had completed the proposed extra seating at the Albany end,that never happened so capacity is about 36k.

  3. Jaysus lads do ye want to play all your games at home!!

    Hi Willie,
    Sorry for your recent loss hope your doing ok.

    Kind Regards,
    Martin the Dub

  4. Galway to win handy enough tomorrow and come visit us in our all seater stadium in July !! While the Albany end was never finished off (nor even ironically had that bloody advertisement given a good aul lick of its own paint in several years !! 😉 ) it certainly won’t need to be at 42k capacity given the falling attendances at Connaught finals in recent years.

  5. Only two years ago Hyde park was more than capable of hosting the connacht final yet now because of some health and safety issue it isn’t? I think most would put up with the Portaloos and heavy pitch etc than traveling to windy salthill that always has traffic issues. Saying all that I expect Galway to win tomorrow which will mean another home connacht final for mayo

  6. I was just thinking is the Roscommon game a true reflection of where we really are, or a wake up call to inspire us to realise our true potential. Time will tell.

    Pearse park or Machale park will hardly matter much if the grass gets long again are we simply waiting to get taking or are we waiting to pounce.

    I think that if we break through this time it will have to be a pouncing year.

  7. Would much prefer going to the Hyde than to Salthill. Better re traffic atmosphere etc and we usually win there. Never liked Pearse Stadium and the quicker they upgrade Hyde the better. Anyway expect Galway to win tomorrow so looking forward to final in Castlebar

  8. @Joe Ruane, its very hard to know where we are at, at the moment. Remember when Derry beat us in the league semi-final, everyone was saying that Derry were showing great form and were really on the up. Then look what the Dubs did to them. So we have to think, how good are Roscommon? On the one hand, our form has not been good lately but on the other hand we finished on 9 points in Division 1, the most points accumulated in the league under James Horan. Our performance against Cork was probably our best one, for most of that game. We looked impressive at times against Dublin too before our poor finish to that match. As you said, only time will tell how we will get on this year. Is that a good sign, we are winning but not playing that well? I seen an interesting stat in the paper today in relation to Galway, if they don’t reach the Connacht final this year, it will equal their worst run since 1904 to 1908, of not making it to the final (their last final was 2009). Surely thats a record they will want to avoid equaling.

  9. If Sligo win and that’s a big if, then according to my sources, they will be more than happy to play us in MacHale Park.

  10. Hardly a big if with Galway’s championship record over the last 5 years and after the fuss Sligo caused two years ago i doubt they would be happy to play in McHale park.

  11. What a ridiculous situation.

    In theory, the only way we could get to see Mayo in a Connacht final in McHale park is if we play Galway (and even then, only 1 in 2 finals would be played there).

    Surely the fairest way would be for each county to take turns to choose the venue?

    This also really highlights the folly in spending all of that money on McHale park.

  12. Am I reading it correctly – the Mayo debt on McHale Park is now down to €1m (being serviced by a low-interest medium-term loan from Croker/HQ. If so, on an investment of €17m+, that would be excellent? Am I missing some other part of this funding equation?
    If not, we should be proud and praising the people behind the project and in Connacht terms, it’s a McHale Mahal !!!

    Agree with comments on Pearse Stadium, but mainly for access and escaping afterwards.

    On Hyde Park – it is ideally located for a good traffic plan to get in and out of. However, the last day for the Semi-Final, the Garda traffic plan in the first hour after the fame was a joke.

    The Hyde has suffered from a lack of investment over ownership dispute for years between Roscommon Gaels and Ros. County Board. That is now resolved (as Portlaoise and I think Donegal previously) and the Hyde will close after the Ros County Final for possibly up to 18 months for a major overhaul. It will then join the McHale Mahal and Pearse Stadium as again eligible for Connacht Finals.

    Just one other point – The Ulster Council are spending a fortune on Casement Park, which will make Clones redundant for their big matches. Motorway access, mega underground car park, all seat end the 40,000s?

  13. Mayo can also play a Connacht Final in Castlebar…if the teams were to meet in next years final it would be in MacHale Park. Mayo, Galway and Roscommon all have home / agreements in place.

  14. I have to take issue with this notion that Andy is now a super sub (and Alan as well) and that young lads should be started for experience.Also that the pace had dropped when Andy came on.Thats not how I saw it.He rescued us and we started with the wrong half forward line which nearly cost us a fourth Connacht final.
    That is my view.I believe Andy (when fit) is far superior to other forwards and we will find it hard to win anything without his leadership.May be some doubt over Alan….not convinced on that front.

  15. Galway it is but not at all impressive in my book.Still they did enough .Mayo should really have too much but I hope we dont get over confident.Cautios optimism is best.

  16. Funny feeling mayo and galway can do well in later round s of championship and beat dublin and cork. What do you think and c final will be so close.

  17. Not sure what to make of that Galway performance. They looked very ordinary in the first half with Sligo playing some impressive physical, direct and fast moving football. Big improvement in their play in second half – Shane Walsh will need to be very carefully marked in the final. With Paul Conroy making his return from injury they will a stronger proposition in three weeks time. If we play at the high intensity we’re capable of then we should be a few points the better team.

  18. “That traffic-infested hole by the sea”. Charming Willie Joe, very charming.

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