Minor final venue a 'difficult one' for the GAA, says O'Connor

June 29, 2022

Offaly manager Leo O'Connor is interviewed by TG4. ©INPHO/Tom Maher.

Offaly manager Leo O’Connor has mixed views on the choice of venue for Sunday’s All-Ireland MHC final against Tipperary.

While disagreeing with the GAA’s policy of playing All-Ireland minor finals outside Croke Park since the age was lowered to U17, the Limerick man says the upside to having the decider at the 27,000-capacity UPMC Nowlan Park is that there would be more tickets to go around.

“Some people consider it [Nowlan Park] the home of hurling. From what I’m hearing, the ticket situation has gone really, really well,” he said at last Thursday’s media briefing in Faithful Fields.

“I think the GAA were worried about whether Portlaoise [which hosted the Leinster final] could hold the crowd. That night was spectacular for Offaly as a county and for the GAA as a whole. I saw an aerial shot of the ground taken from a drone and to see it full for a Leinster MHC final was fab.”

O’Connor continued: “I was lucky enough to win an All-Ireland MHC final below in Thurles in 1984. I was born and bred into a GAA family with a dad [the late Sean O’Connor] who refereed three All-Ireland hurling finals. On All-Ireland final day, you had the All-Ireland minor final as gaelige with Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh commentating and the All-Ireland senior final in English with Michael O’Hehir commentating. That became synonymous with the whole scenario.

“But child protection has a lot to do with it now. Some people feel it puts pressure on kids that are U17. It’s a difficult one. Personally, I would love it to be played with the senior final. But then again, with what you have this year, where are Offaly people going to get tickets for an All-Ireland hurling final [in Croke Park]?

“The GAA have had their obvious reasons for doing what they’re doing. All I care about is that we’re happy to be in a first final since 1989.”

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