Cork must play Kerry in Killarney as Páirc Uí Rinn could only hold 11,000 fans

Munster Council had originally fixed the provincial semi-final on Leeside on the basis the capacity would be extended to 15,000
Cork must play Kerry in Killarney as Páirc Uí Rinn could only hold 11,000 fans

Spectators look on during the McGrath Cup Final match between Kerry and Cork at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney in January. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

CORK’S Munster football semi-final against Kerry on Saturday, May 7, has been moved to Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney (6pm), following a meeting of the provincial council’s Competition Control Committee last evening.

The game was originally fixed for Páirc Uí Rinn at 7pm ‘in the expectation that it would hold 15,000’, according to a statement issued after the meeting.

‘Following an independent statutory annual health and safety inspection, which identified a number of issues at the ground, the capacity was reduced to 9,200.

‘And even if all the required works are carried out in time, the maximum attendance that can be achieved at the venue is 11,000,’ the statement added.

Cork manager Keith Ricken and selector Micheal Ó Cróinín on the sidleline at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork manager Keith Ricken and selector Micheal Ó Cróinín on the sidleline at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

It also said the average attendance of the last three Cork-Kerry games in the Munster championship held at Páirc Uí Chaoimh was in excess of 22,000, not including the Covid match in 2020.

The home and away arrangements between the two counties meant it was Cork’s turn to stage the next match following on from last season’s Covid-impacted Munster final, which had a 2,500 limit on Fitzgerald Stadium.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh would normally house the game, but this is unavailable due to the Ed Sheeran concert the week before which requires remedial work on the pitch and this wouldn’t be finished in time.

As compensation for Cork losing out, it means the next two games against Kerry will be played at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Apart from the obvious financial concerns, the council were also concerned by the prospect of no tickets going on sale to the general public and even clubs’ allocations would have been seriously affected.

Season ticket holders in both counties, with Kerry having between 3,500-4,000, would be one of the first cohort of groups for ticket allocation along with players, families and sponsors.

Sky Sports are broadcasting live coverage of the tie between champions Kerry and their great rivals.

Logistically, the tight Páirc Uí Rinn ground is also posing difficulties for Sky, whose trucks would take up most of the space behind the only goal with room for parking.

And there’s a suggestion of a special gantry being erected on the Boreennmanna Road to cater for their commentary requirements.

The decision comes as a blow to Cork’s footballers, who put the county board under pressure to back their stance on insisting the game go ahead at Páirc Uí Rinn.

Neither the players nor management are dealing with media queries at the moment because of the on-going expenses row between the player representative body, the Gaelic Players Association, and Croke Park.

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