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Joe Kernan: Grounds for concern when smaller clubs are missing out on big gates

Like other big sporting organisations, the GAA is sometimes accused of applying double standards in elements of its administration.

And we now have what I feel is an example of this in relation to the choice of grounds for Ulster Club championship matches in gaelic football and hurling.

The Ulster Council has just confirmed that in future all games in these competitions will be played at the major county grounds as opposed to what pertains at present with some matches taking place at what are considered to be secondary county venues.

It was Coalisland’s strenuous objection last week to taking on Roslea in Healy Park, Omagh rather than on their well-appointed Fr Peter Campbell Park that brought matters to a head.

When it is considered that many clubs pump vast sums into developing their grounds it is perhaps somewhat ironic then that some of these clubs are denied home advantage when they manage to reach provincial competitions.

It is a fact that most fixtures, except for Ulster Club Championship fixtures, draw less than 100 fans — and this really makes me wonder if all the work in providing spectator accommodation at so many grounds is really required at all.

Being accorded home advantage in the Ulster Club series means that teams can get a rare chance to play to thousands rather than dozens on their own patch but prospect is now being ruled out.

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