Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Casement looking up, Clones isn't

Revamped Casement Park will stage the top games

With the redevelopment of Casement Park set to transform the Belfast venue into the home for all major games within Ulster GAA, Director-General Paraic Duffy has revealed that the association remains undecided about what to do with St Tiernach's Park in Clones.

The Monaghan venue has played host to the Ulster final since 1970 – apart from a three-year period in the middle of the last decade when it was moved to Croke Park because of an unprecedented level of demand – but lack of games in the 35,000 capacity ground in the future will mean a significant re-think.

"It's a real problem in the making," Duffy reveals.

"I had a discussion a few weeks ago – it was a meeting with the Clones club who would have their concerns, the Monaghan County Board and the Ulster Council. We have agreed to set up a small group to look at Clones in the future."

Given the significant development in making Casement Park a state-of-the-art venue with the same capacity as Clones, the likelihood is that as many games as possible will be hosted in Belfast.

Duffy explains: "I think Clones will have little use. If Monaghan get a home game in the Championship – the law of averages says you get a home game every two years.

"You might get a Fermanagh v Monaghan or Fermanagh v Cavan semi-final, but other than that I don't see Clones getting used.

"So here you have a stadium with huge capacity. The problem with Clones is, it's too big for Monaghan's needs.

"Monaghan want to play their league games in a venue in the middle of the county that could hold 6,000 people in comfort.

"Clones is 35,000 people and it is really hard to generate an atmosphere. There is a real problem in what is going to happen with Clones," he adds.

The Clones club who play at St Tiernach's operate at Intermediate level. Duffy expresses his concerns that owning and maintaining a huge ground like that would not be feasible without the revenue created by bumper Championship crowds.

"The costs are too high, they cannot afford it," says Duffy.

"Clones is like a hot potato that Ulster Council, Monaghan County Board and Croke Park are all hoping to give to somebody else.

"There are no games so it is not generating revenue. It's a real problem that has to be addressed."

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