by Paddy Hickey
Dublin legend Paul Curran has added his voice to the growing band of influential figures calling for the Cavan-Dublin All-Ireland football semi-final to be moved away from Croke Park.
Already, Cavan manager Mickey Graham has been joined by former Armagh ace Oisin McConville, and ex Cavan star Seanie Johnston in suggesting that the novel penultimate pairing on Saturday week be staged at a neutral venue.
In addition to the fact that the six-in-row chasing Dubs enjoy a significant advantage when playing at the Headquarters venue, Graham, McConville and Johnston’s point of view has been bolstered by the fact that with crowds not permitted to attend the fixture, no loss of revenue from gate receipts would be involved in such an eventuality.
Asked for his views on the subject, Curran said: “I understand Mickey Graham’s viewpoint on the matter, and I feel it would probably be a good idea to move the All-Ireland semi-final away from Croke Park, and, with no crowds present, there’s no reason why the game has to be played there.
“Dublin have an advantage of playing games at Croke Park, and it would suit Cavan better if the game were played at a ground such as Clones and Armagh where they are very much accustomed to playing at.
“However, I don’t think that Dublin would be at any significant disadvantage if the game were played at somewhere other than Croke Park.
“ In the past, some Dublin teams might have been handicapped to some extent by playing games at provincial grounds, but that weakness definitely doesn’t apply to the present team who are very comfortable playing league games or early round championship games down the country,” added the 1995 All-Ireland medalist and 1995 Texaco Footballer of the Year.
But while understanding the Cavan boss’s point of view, the three-time All Star feels that Cavan would be better served by placing their entire mental focus on the clash against Dessie Farrell’s charges rather than on the actual venue for the game.
“I feel that all this talk about calling for the game to be switched from Croke Park could have an adverse effect on Cavan’s performance in the game, as there is a danger of it proving a major distraction for the team-management and for the players,” he remarked.
“And if the GAA don’t accommodate Cavan in that regard it could have a damaging effect on the team’s mood and morale ahead of the semi-final.”
However, regardless of where the penultimate battle is staged, Curran, who managed Cuala to this year’s Dublin Senior ‘B’ Championship title, feels that Graham and his players will take a lot of heart from their shock win over raging red-hot favourites Donegal in last Sunday’s Ulster final.
“I watched the game on television and I was very impressed by Cavan’s performance,” he pointed out on the Athletic Grounds tie.
“Admittedly, Donegal probably had one eye on the All-Ireland semi-final, and, as a result, that likely had an detrimental effect on the standard of their performance.
“But still you have to give Cavan a lot of credit, and once the game was evenly balanced near the end the Cavan lads were really sniffing their chance of causing a huge upset.
“As well, Cavan coped extremely well with the fact that they were a man short for most of the last 15 minutes, and their defence in particular was really excellent in that period.”