Belfast Telegraph

Friday 24 October 2014

Fans will vote with their feet if not given best surroundings

The choice of grounds for major games is highlighted by GAA director general Paraic Duffy in his annual report and his pertinent comments should be taken on board by those charged with responsibility for naming match venues.

Duffy makes the point that venues should not be chosen "on account of politics or traditional practice" and I agree wholeheartedly with him on this.

Indeed, reading between the lines, he infers that we now have more than enough modernised stadia to host matches which means that important ties should no longer be allocated to secondary county grounds.

Quite often this is done to perhaps give a home team an extra advantage without issues such as spectator comfort, ancillary amenities, accessibility and traffic problems being taken into account.

Spectators will now vote with their feet and stay at home rather than endure the ordeal of travelling to an out-of-the-way venue where little is on offer to that can actually really enhance their enjoyment of the game.

Duffy is urging provincial councils to look at staging games at venues which will attract the biggest number of people to the highest level of comfort.

In Ulster, we are particularly well served with top-class stadia and it is no coincidence that many major matches are now being hosted at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh which has surely become one of the busiest venues in the country since it was refurbished.

And while Ulster boasts fine grounds, it also continues to prove the home for the inter-provincial trophy which was won on Sunday in Croke Park.

Ulster's fine win meant that this was a three-in-a-row success which surely is a reflection of the standard of the players we currently have in the province.

• The departure of Oisin McConville (pictured) from the playing scene means that we will no longer have the opportunity to marvel at one of the truly great craftsmen.

A superb finisher both from play and frees, Oisin has long since attained legendary stratus because of his scoring exploits.

Success has been a way of life for him since he made his debut for Crossmaglen Rangers and the haul of trophies and medals he has won is unlikely to be ever surpassed by any other individual player.

He slips into retirement as a new-look Crossmaglen Rangers is taking shape but he has set the bar for those who seek to follow in his footsteps.

He may well return in a management capacity and I wish him well for the future wherever his destiny takes him.

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