Why was the Galway & Donegal game fixed for Croke Park?

On Saturday week (August 1 ), the Round 4B qualifiers, between Galway and Donegal, and Sligo and Tyrone, have been fixed as a double header in Croke Park - with the Galway game due to throw in at 6pm.

Why were those fixtures made for GAA headquarters in Dublin, instead of perhaps a double header at McHale Park, in Castlebar, or two standalone venues as is happening this weekend?

The Central Competitions Committee were obviously unconcerned about the fact that for Galway and Donegal supporters, a trip to Castlebar or Markievicz Park is a lot more attractive than hauling up to Jones Road on a bank holiday weekend, especially the week after Race Week in Galway.

Castlebar is a round trip of 100 miles and about two hours from Galway city - and a lot closer from the likes of Tuam and Milltown, whereas Croke Park is about 280 miles and the guts of five hours all in. 

What time would a family get back to Carna, Carraroe or Clonbur on the Saturday night, if they attended that 6pm game in Croke Park?

I would not expect more than 30,000 to attend that double header in Croke Park which is not enough to create a buzz in that vast stadium. And that dilutes the atmosphere considerably for the players and supporters. Better a wedged McHale Park, than a two-thirds empty Croke Park.

Another example of the committee not taking into account the supporters that help finance the GAA is this weekend, when the Galway minor hurlers play at 12 noon in Semple stadium and the Galway seniors are then not in action until 4pm. 

Why could Galway and Cork not have been fixed for the 2pm slot and Dublin and Waterford put on at 4pm? 

Instead Galway hurling supporters are expected to in the Stadium for the guts of six hours to support their two teams. That is a really perfect example of the fixture makers being totally inconsiderate to the team’s supporters.

Mayo will be hard stopped

On the field of play, last weekend provided further evidence that Mayo are one of the teams to beat this year. They have a better balance up front with Aidan O’ Shea in at full-forward, and they carry much more penetration in their inside forward line with the Breaffy man in there.

What county defender can stop the Breaffy man in one-on-one combat?

On a different point, Cillian O’Connor’s combined 7-29 in five Connacht finals is a terrific tally and it is a great achievement for the entire squad to win five-in-a-row Connacht medals. Well done also to Alan Dillon and Andy Moran on collecting their eighth provincial medals.

It will be very interesting to see how Mayo and O’Shea handle a blanket defence in the All-Ireland quarter finals. Regardless of whether it is Tyrone or Donegal in that game, no team is going to leave a defender isolated on O’Shea. How he reacts to being double marked will be intriguing. 

This weekend sees  Fermanagh and Westmeath and Kildare and Cork in action. 

John Heslin’s absence through injury is a big blow for Westmeath and could sway that tie in Fermanagh’s favour. They are on the back of wins over Antrim and Roscommon and Pete McGrath will have them in good shape. 

In the other game, I think Kildare are quite good value at 9/2 against a Cork side that could be a bit flat after two tough games with Kerry, and with only six days to recover from their Munster final defeat.

Jason Ryan’s team should have a bit of momentum after beating Offaly and trouncing Longford by 19 points two weeks ago. At almost 5/1, they could be worth a punt.


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