Cill Dara RFC will put on a big show on Saturday for the All Ireland Final, have no doubt about that.
A great club with a long tradition of welcoming visiting clubs and their supporters to finals at all levels at the venue including the 2007 Towns Cup final between Navan and Skerries.
Yet we have to ask, is a provincial club’s ground the right venue for an All Ireland Cup final going forward?
For those of you who haven’t experienced a Towns Cup final at a provincial venue, have no doubt that the Leinster Branch’s system of using provincial club grounds to host each final is a fantastic one and usually works very well. Portarlington put on a fine show last year hosing over 3,000 supporters.
So the decision makers who needed to find a location for this year’s All Ireland final probably thought, “We have two Leinster teams in the final, why not create a Towns Cup feel to it all and pick a venue that is geographically neutral.”
Many will say that the Towns Cup is unique and a national competition is completely different, therefore attempting to replicate one in the other is pointless.
The All Ireland Junior Cup competition is on the verge of becoming a national treasure for Junior clubs after just seven years. It has slotted into the calendar very well and generates huge excitement within small clubs all around the country. The missing link, is a showpiece big day and venue to help ensure that all clubs continue to strive for success in it and which will help give it a unique selling point.
The English FA open up Wembley for the FA Vase and Trophy finals giving thousands of clubs the very small but very real opportunity of getting to play there, the GAA do the exact same thing with Junior and Intermediate All Ireland finals at all grades, the RFU in England use Twickenham for numerous grassroots yet since the redevolpment the Aviva Stadium has not been used in similar fashion.
It’s clear in many ways that the IRFU are fully behind this competition. This year’s president, Billy Glynn was in Kanturk last month for the semi finals, the coverage last year included a live online stream of the final with full commentary and they reportedly have strongly resisted all calls for reducing it in size or moving it in the calendar.
That’s all brilliant but the question has to be asked. Is all the above good work being undone when major venues are not considered for events like this?
Some closing questions.
- The Aviva Stadium is used the by the FAI for their national cup final why can’t the Ulster Bank Senior and Junior Cup finals be also considered?
- Thomond Park, Ravenhill, Musgrave Park and the RDS all hold major club and school games throughout the season, could they not be considered in future for Junior Cup finals?
- Tallaght Stadium is being used for Schools games this year. Is there any reason why it could it not be used for a final like this.?
By Rob Murphy