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Casement is a compromise too far for International Rules series

By Micheal McGeary

Two top GAA officials have rubbished reports that Casement Park will host an International Rules Test against Australia in 2013.

“We would love to be in a position to do it there in Casement, but it wasn’t considered suitable this year as basically we need more seats,” said GAA operations manager Feargal McGill.

And Ulster Council secretary Danny Murphy has poured cold water on the whole idea.

“No decision has been taken as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

“How can you talk about a 40,000-seater stadium when it still has to seek planning approval?

“You can take it there’s no danger of something like this going ahead in 2013.”

Endorsing those sentiments Antrim county chairman John McSparran was equally emphatic.

“It’s the first I’ve heard of it. Upgrading Casement Park in three years time strikes me as being very ambitious,” he said.

“The reality is that it still has to be discussed at Central Council level.”

But you sense that if money became available and planning permission was granted without any delays it might just become a runner.

For all its faults the Aviva Stadium in Dublin was built 18 months from the day the first foundation stone was laid.

There are also those who will argue that now is the time to press ahead with this ambitious project.

The Belfast venue was pipped to the post by Limerick in the race to stage this year’s first Test against the Australians.

There was a feeling then that Casement Park’s turn would come sooner rather than later, but whether it will be a 40,000 all-seater stadium by 2013 remains to be seen.

“It would be the absolute ambition of everyone in the GAA to have an international game staged in Belfast at some point,” said McGill.

Meanwhile work on the upgraded Athletic Grounds in Armagh is close to competition raising hopes that it will be able to house Armagh’s Allianz League opener against Dublin in the New Year.

Club action in the province will conclude on Sunday week when Clones stages the AIB Ulster club football final between Crossmaglen Rangers and Glenties, a game that has a two o’clock throw in.

Belfast Telegraph

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