Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Ulster win at Twickenham could lead to logistical nightmare

Dublin is facing the prospect of a logistical headache with two big sporting fixtures on either side of the Liffey potentially colliding on the same afternoon later this month.

The Allianz Football League Division 1 and Division 2 finals have been set in stone for Croke Park on Sunday, April 28 since the fixtures were made last October.

But earlier this week the ERC made the draws for the Heineken Cup semi-finals and it was decided the Aviva Stadium would host a semi-final on that date if Ulster are involved.

Ulster must first beat Saracens at Twickenham tonight in their quarter-final for that scenario to arise.

But a league final involving Dublin would have the capacity to edge a Croke Park attendance well above 40,000.

The crowd would not be affected for either fixture, but if it does transpire, it would provide quite a logistical and security challenge for the city.

The GAA and IRFU/ERC have generally managed to avoid clashes of this magnitude between Croke Park and Lansdowne Road in the past.

In 2006, the football league finals clashed with the Heineken Cup semi-final between Munster and Leinster, but the Division 1 final between Kerry and Galway was played in Limerick on the Sunday evening, with the Division 2 final between Donegal and Louth in Cavan.

The Division 1 league semi-final placings won't be determined until Sunday evening when the final round concludes but Dublin, Kildare and Tyrone are already qualified.

A Dublin-Kildare or Dublin-Tyrone final would have the potential to draw the biggest crowds to Croke Park with Westmeath, who are already qualified, and Derry the most likely Division 2 final pairing.

The GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee will finalise venues for the semi-finals on Monday with Croke Park the probable venue because of the teams involved.

• Cork All Star Colm O'Neill has vowed he will come back from a heartbreaking third torn cruciate ligament knee injury.

The forward, who will undergo surgery in the coming days, said: "I can do this. I've done it before – twice – and part of me likes the challenge of having to climb the mountain for a third time."

The Cork star, who had surgery on his left knee in 2008 and 2012, suffered the same injury, a third time, against Donegal in the Allianz League three weeks ago.

"Like it or lump it, it's something I'm going to have to get my head around," he said.

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