Aughrim appeal falls on deaf ears
Dubs game in Portlaoise
THE dream of Joule Park, Aughrim, hosting what would be the biggest game in recent history had the Leinster SFC quarter-final between Wicklow and reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin been fixed for the Garden County venue appears all but dead today as last-minute appeals from the Wicklow County Board appear to have fallen on deaf ears within Leinster Council.
Apparent concerns over inefficient capacity at the county grounds have ensured that the fixture will now be played at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise on Sunday, May 27, at 4pm, leaving Wicklow GAA chiefs and supporters disappointed at a lost opportunity to see the Dublin football wagon roll into Joule Park, Aughrim, with all the economic and PR value that follows.
“Following our Leinster Senior Championship win over Offaly yesterday, Wicklow GAA formally requested that the Wicklow v. Dublin Leinster Senior Championship quarter-final be played in Joule Park, Aughrim,” said Wicklow GAA Chairman Martin Fitzgerald earlier this week.
“All members of Wicklow GAA are working hard to develop, promote and grow participation within the county, at all levels. The possibility of welcoming the reigning All Ireland Senior Champions to Joule Park, Aughrim would have given a sizeable boost to Wicklow GAA, our supporters and our players.
“We are hugely disappointed that this request has not been considered. We feel a significant opportunity has been missed to promote GAA in Wicklow and assist the hard work being done at all levels, across all codes, in the county,” he added.
Wicklow GAA PRO Kieron Kenny published a passionate statement in relation to the fixing of the game in Portlaoise.
“The gap between these two on the field is clearly massive but off the field Wicklow has many passionate followers and also a generation of young people who needed to see the best ever GAA team at first hand in Joule Park. Wicklow needs these youngsters to be inspired, to dream that they too someday may have a day like this in their careers. Wicklow needed a Dublin to come to Joule Park,” he wrote.
A GAA crowd are big spenders and leave a sizeable chunk of cash behind them wherever they go. Aughrim and surrounding areas would be buzzing for the weekend, the atmosphere created inside and outside the ground would be memorable. It would be intangible to Wicklow GAA.
The Wicklow players of today also deserved the reward of home venue, being part of the first Wicklow team to face the reigning All-Ireland champions in a championship game is an honour.
Hosting and consistently playing against the best is the only way the gap between the top and bottom will ever close. For Wicklow to believe that they could someday make the ‘Super 8’s’ they needed somebody to believe in them,” he added.