ON THE ROAD AGAIN Mayo supporters are pictured waiting for the turnstiles to open outside the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick before last year's All-Ireland SFC Qualifier against Limerick. Pic: Sportsfile
POLICE concerns over traffic congestion in Newry caused by the expected large influx of supporters for Mayo’s All-Ireland SFC Round Two Qualifier match against Down on Saturday week next was one of the main reasons why the clash has been fixed for a 7pm start.
That’s according to Connacht GAA Council Secretary John Prenty, who is a member of the GAA’s fixture-making body, the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC).
Prenty told The Mayo News today (Wednesday) that the CCCC also had to take into account a number of other GAA fixtures taking place on Saturday, June 22.
One of these included the Christy Ring Cup Final, involving the Down hurlers, which is being played at 2pm in Croke Park earlier on that day.
The Nicky Rackard Cup Final between the hurlers of Armagh and Sligo is also scheduled for 4pm in Croke Park on Saturday, June 22, with the Armagh footballers travelling to Clones to face Monaghan in their Round Two Football Qualifier at 7pm also.
“We sat down yesterday (Tuesday) as the CCCC and looked at all the permutations,” explained John Prenty. “Sligo and Armagh are both in the Football Qualifiers and they are also playing each other in the Nicky Rackard Cup final on the same day.
“Leitrim are facing Clare in the Football Qualifiers, and are in the Lory Meagher Cup final against Lancashire that day too. While Down are also competing in the Christy Ring Final.
“Normally the Christy Ring Final would be at a later time, but we decided to put that for 2pm so that their supporters will make it to Newry and likewise with the Nicky Rackard Final, and that’s basically the reason [why the game is fixed for 7pm].”
Prenty also explained that even if the Down hurlers were not lining out in Croke Park, the PSNI would not be in favour of an earlier throw-in time for Mayo’s clash with Down.
“If there was no involvement from Down in the hurling, it still wouldn’t have been on at 5pm or 6pm because of the PSNI,” he said. “Newry on a Saturday evening is a very, very busy place and the PSNI would not want a match at the earlier time because they want the shoppers to be gone before the influx of supporters starting arriving.”
Prenty also ruled out the possibility of the Mayo v Down match being played on Sunday, June 23 due to the Ulster Senior Football Final between Donegal and Cavan in Clones, as well as Down’s involvement in the Under-20 curtain raiser on that day.
An estimated 15,000 supporters are expected to attend the first championship game between Mayo and Down for seven years.
Pairc Esler holds approximately 25,000 people, but the game on Saturday week next is expected to be an all-ticket affair.
Meanwhile, many Mayo supporters have been voicing their disappointment about the late throw-in time for the match in Newry, as it involves a seven-hour round trip for many fans in the extreme north and west of the county.
Mayo News columnist Anne-Marie Flynn tweeted: “7-hour return trip combined with a 7pm throw-in. That’s just sound @officialgaa. “Looks like ye don’t really need the attendances after all. Far easier for supporters to stay at home.”