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Down star Benny Coulter at odds with GAA President Christy Cooney over Croke Park fences

By Micheal McGeary

Benny Coulter’s call not to erect fencing in front of Croke Park’s famous Hill 16 will strike a chord with all genuine GAA fans.

It would, however, appear that the GAA is determined to press ahead with its plans to fence off part of the famous old stadium.

For no less a person than GAA President Christy Cooney has again thrown his weight behind the move.

It could be argued that the plan to erect barriers at the front of Hill 16 ahead of next month’s All Ireland finals is a knee jerk reaction to the events at the end of the Leinster football final between Louth and Meath when referee Martin Sludden was attacked.

Coulter who will be central to Down’s push for an All Ireland final place when they meet Kildare on Sunday week, feels passionately about an issue that won’t go away.

Critics of the scheme point to the tragic Hillsborough disaster in 1989 and the subsequent report that blamed fans being fenced in as a contributory factor.

“Fans bring so much to our game in terms of colour and atmosphere and the least they are entitled to is to be allowed to come onto the pitch at the finish,” said Coulter.

“They have stuck with their team in good and bad times and it’s only right they can share in our hour of glory whether it’s at club or county level.”

President Cooney though takes a different stance claiming the GAA had no option but to press ahead with the erecting of barriers in front of Hill 16.

“This wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly, but we in the GAA fully recognise the seriousness of the position we find ourselves in.

“At all times we must be mindful of safety for everyone,” he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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