June 2016 The Last Time Dublin Senior Ladies Football Played A Home Championship Fixture
Yes the headline is correct, the Dublin Senior Ladies Footballers haven’t played a home championship fixture in over two years.
The last ‘Home’ championship game the reigning All Ireland champions played in was on the 12th of June 2016.
Furthermore between 2014 and this year’s championship and excluding All Ireland finals, Dublin have played a paltry total of three championship games in the Capital.
One of those home fixtures was the 2015 All Ireland semi final against Armagh which was played in Parnell Park.
But the LGFA play their NFL finals in Parnell Park as they deem it a ‘neutral’ ground.
So technically in terms of the ladies football championship it’s not a Dublin home venue.
Next weekend Dublin return to Dr Hyde Park for their All Ireland semi final against Galway.
It is the third game in a row this championship that they have played at the Roscommon venue.
Even including the above Parnell Park game it means the Dublin senior ladies footballers have played as many times in the Hyde in just one championship as they have at ‘Home’ in five years.
That’s a staggering statistic, but it’s not the only one, Dublin have played more times in Carlow in that time and almost as much in Timahoe in Laois.
Other exotic venues that the girls in blue have visited are, Johnstownbridge, Clones, Cavan, Birr, Mullingar, Portlaoise, Summerhill, Longford, Thurles, Kilkenny and Dunleer.
There Is A Sense Of Unfairness
There is a definite sense of unfairness to the players at the lack of home championship fixtures.
And there are knock on effects as a result of that, not just on the players but also the county board and supporters.
Depending on traveling time to the venue and the throw-in times of games it means either an early start or late return or sometimes both for players and supporters.
Also there is the constant expense for the county board for bus hire for the team and other match day outlays.
It’s unfair on Dublin supporters, family and friends who have to constantly travel up and down the country for every game.
As a result it also effects attendance numbers due to the continuous financial outlay.
This Saturday’s game will be the fifth away fixture in a row and the financial burden on supporters to pay for match tickets, petrol/diesel and food quickly mounts up.
Hence that leads to fans due to the cost of constantly having to travel to away fixtures to miss games because they can’t afford it.
Furthermore that scenario is hindering the promotion of the game with young children and teenagers unable to go and see games live.
Now the current state of the Leinster Championship doesn’t help matters, there are only two Senior sides in the whole province, Dublin and Westmeath.
As a result there is only one fixture and that’s the Leinster Final. So there is no any scope for a home fixture in the Leinster championship for Dublin.
New Group Phase Allows Scope For At Least One Home Championship Fixture
The new group phase introduced this season certainly allows for every side to have at least one home championship fixture.
The LGFA decided that all games this season in the new round-robin series would be played at neutral venues.
For next season though that needs to be tweaked and follow the format of the GAA’s Super 8’s where teams get one game at home, one away and one at a neutral venue.
That would be fairer on all teams and their supporters and would certainly increase attendances at a good number of games.
It would also ease the financial burden on fans already stretched purses and wallets.
Dublin fans, particularly the youngsters who long to see their idols in the flesh in championship action have been lucky that Dublin have reached the last four All Ireland Finals or they may have never seen them play.
They deserve the chance to experience that more than once a year.
Particularly as there is no guarantee that they will even get that opportunity.
It’s time for change no team should be expected to constantly play all their championship games away from home.
It’s unfair on the Dublin squad, supporters, families and friends and not good for the promotion of the game, particularly to the future generations of potential players.