So much for the promotion of hurling. This weekend the 2014 Christy Ring Champions, Kildare, will kick off their new season. Unfortunately though, they will not be doing so in their county grounds of St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge. Oh no. That venue is reserved for the Kildare footballers O’Byrne Cup semi-final showdown with DIT.
What about a double-header you say? Out of the question apparently. We don’t know is this to do with concerns over crowds – which is a huge possibility of course given that there are three different sides involved and we know just how huge a following third level teams bring to their games.
Maybe it’s to do with the condition of the pitch? Because after all everyone expects pristine pitches in January, the ball bouncing off the sod as if it were Croke Park in early autumn.
Meath County Board somehow managed to decide that Pairc Tailteann would be able to host a double-header when it became clear that their footballers and hurlers would be playing the same day. Sadly it appears as if Kildare cannot accommodate such a monumental task in a ground described to me just this week by an inter-county player as the worst he has played in.
Ok, that’s fine then if St Conleth’s cannot hold the burden of two pre-season games, then obviously whichever game is moved will be on at a different time so that people can take in both games and maybe honour the players who won an All Ireland under 21 B title last year and have since graduated to the senior set-up alongside their fellow All Ireland champions?
What’s that? They can’t? Because the games are both fixed for 2pm?
In the infinite wisdom of whoever makes these decisions they have put two games on at the exact same time in the same town on the same day, thereby denying people a chance to watch the two games if they wanted, and missing a massive chance to promote both codes within the county you say? Well that is staggering. STAGGERING.
Just this Sunday Damian Lawlor wrote a superb article in the Sunday Independent outlining many of the struggles that Kildare hurlers have had to overcome to get to the top of their game. Sadly, it appears as if those struggles will continue for some time yet.
St Conleth’s Park is the county ground in Kildare for all teams but sadly some are more equal than others it would appear (As an aside, some player’s on the Kildare Ladies football and Camogie teams have never played in St Conleth’s Park, but I digress).
The hurlers deserve to play in the county ground every bit as much as the footballers and they certainly deserve a chance for a moment in the spotlight after their fantastic achievements in the last twelve months. This decision makes a mockery of any mealy-mouthed talk of promoting all codes equally in the county. It may be a small thing, it may not amount to all that much in the grand scheme of things but if it isn’t pointed out and rectified, these sort of issues will continue into the future. It’s wrong and personally I’m sick to the back-teeth of the disparity in Kildare and in every other county where one group of players has to take a back-seat to another code. Otherwise, the GAA is going down a very dark road from which there is no turning back.