HOME RULE FOR DUBS.
DUBLIN look set to play all their Leinster Championship games at Croke Park again in 2015.
Leinster chiefs last night told Star Sport that moving the Dubs out of GAA HQ made little sense in terms of the capacity of other venues, finance, spectator comfort and promoting the game.
The full fixture list will be decided at next month’s Leinster Council meeting after TV bosses at RTE and Sky Sports have their say.
A vote to move Dublin out of Croke Park for their Leinster quarter-final with Laois was defeated 11/1 at a meeting last year, with the O’Moore men the only county in favour of it and little has changed in the mean time.
The last time Dublin played outside Croker in the Leinster Championship was the 2006 with Longford at Pearse Park.
Dublin have been drawn against either Longford or Offaly in next year’s quarter-final, but the chances of a last-eight clash at Tullamore or Pearse Park appear remote.
Leinster Chairman John Horan said: “Nothing is set or decided yet. It’s the perennial question. Are Dublin going out of Croke Park? If Offaly beat Longford, going forward is Tullamore big enough?
“There was 41,000 at the Dubs’ first match last year (against Laois). You could only get half that in Tullamore.”
“You have season ticket holders too. There’s great concession rates for kids — €5 at Croke Park, which the Leinster Council are subsidising, as it costs us €6.25 per seat at Croke Park.”
“You’d have six and seven-year-olds standing on the terraces in Tullamore and less scope for concessions.
“I’d love as a Dublin Leinster Chairman to say, ‘I took Dublin out of Croke Park,’ but you have to be realistic abut it.”
“People talk about Dublin at Pearse Park a few years ago, but the capacity under health and safety has been brought way back from about 17,000 back then to around 8,000.”
Last year Dublin attracted 40,960, 46,279 and 62,616 fans for their three Croke Park clashes against Laois, Wexford and Meath (the Model clash was a double header with Kildare/Meath).
Last year, renting Croker for four big matchdays — three football and one hurling — cost Leinster almost €875,000.
Some €4m of Leinster’s e8m income in 2013 came from gate receipts, with in the region of €2m arising out of provincial football ties involving the Dubs.
Horan insists money isn’t the be all and end all in their decision, but it is a factor in Dublin playing at Croker.
He continued: “We don’t make as big a killing in Croke Park as people may think. We don’t make a killing on corporate or premium. We still do well and we can offer patrons comfort by having it at Croke Park.”
Leinster chiefs get match programme revenue on big days at Croke Park but they get nothing on premium level tickets and boxes, while all profit on refreshments goes into central coffers.
Overall, Horan is pleased with the Leinster football draw as it had kept the province’s big guns — Dublin, Meath and Kildare — apart until potential semi-finals.
Dublin’s quarter-final could be played as a double header at Croke Park with the Wexford versus Louth or Westmeath clash as a curtain raiser.
The semi-finals are likely to be a double-header at Croker as well. (The Star)