Tipperary Hurling Legend Nicky English has opened another Dublin home venue can of worms
Most people find it difficult to discuss Dublin’s Senior Footballers position, playing two Super 8 clashes in Croke Park in the Championship. Now another debate has been spawned with regards Dublin’s Leinster Hurling Championship bid. And it seems in direct contrast to the football argument.
We’re aware of the motion, sponsored by Donegal, to have Dublin’s Senior Footballers only play one Super 8 game in Croke Park. This motion was soundly defeated at Congress. The question posed would suggest Jim Gavin’s panel play the home phase of the tournament in Parnell Park. No argument there, apart from the obvious capacity issue the county board would face, and the disappointment of the many supporters who wouldn’t get near Donnycarney, let alone the ground.
At this week’s launch of Sky Sports Championship coverage, Nicky English, a Sky commentator and former Tipperary All Ireland winner, has criticised Parnell Park. In his questions with the media, English claimed the stadium is not fit for Inter County Hurling, particularly championship hurling.
“I don’t know the measurements but certainly it feels tight in the corners. As a one-time corner-forward, Parnell Park wouldn’t have been one of my favourites.” English told the Independent.
“I think it’s too tight, yeah. For senior inter-county hurling matches I think it’s too tight.”
For anyone that cares to investigate, Parnell Park measures 141 metres by 82 metres, while Croke Park comes in at 145 metres by 88 metres. And it’s not as if it’s the first time it’s been used for Championship games, so why all of a sudden is it unsuitable for Championship hurling?
“Teams won’t like going to Parnell Park. For me, I’m not sure. From an inter-county hurling perspective for championship matches, it’s a very difficult place to go.”
A change in format brings a change in opinions
On reflection, this argument has only come to the surface now because of the change in the format of the Leinster Championship since last year. Before then Dublin would start the competition in the Quarter Final phase. And on the majority of occasions, the games would already have reached the neutral venue criteria. In 2017 Dublin’s Quarter Final tie against Galway was in O’Connor Park in Tullamore. In 2016 their last eight game against Wexford was in Croke Park. So with the change in format, you simply can’t say a ground is no longer suitable.
Now, with a round robin competition, were teams play games at home and away, there’s no avoiding this. Should the powers that be decide a ground isn’t suitable, and decide to choose a neutral venue for a team, surely this is a hypocritical stance when you hear the debate currently muttered around the football championship format.
Dublin have enjoyed a lot of memorable days in both the Hurling League and Championship at Parnell Park, but English doesn’t believe that success will transfer outside of their home patch.
“The team that’s going to prosper in the close confines of Parnell Park is unlikely to prosper in Croke Park; where ultimately to win anything, you have to go.”
The last time Dublin won Leinster Silverware at Senior Level in hurling, they did so in Croke Park of course. But it’s worth noting that they held Wexford to a draw in the Quarter Finals in Wexford Park. They did however get the job done at the second time of asking…. in Donnycarney. Could that be an omen? Do we even believe in such things. We’ll have to wait and see.