Last year, Dublin played their first 'away' game in Championship football in a decade. They were drawn against the winners of Wicklow and Laois in the Leinster Football Championship quarter final. Strangely enough though, the match would take place at the neutral venue of Nowlan Park in Kilkenny. O'Moore Park in Portaloise was deemed unsuitable for the game.
12 months on, it makes the GAA's decision to sanction this year's quarter final between Dublin and Carlow for O'Moore Park strike as rather odd. Dublin and Carlow will take to the Portlaoise pitch on June 3rd a year after the debacle which the Laois chairman called 'a slap in the face'.
The Leinster GAA Council have now explained their decision to Balls.ie:
The timing is important. The decision, taken in October of 2015, was done in the belief that Nowlan Park and its significant size was required to cater for the expected crowd at a Dublin SFC game outside of Croke Park.
The Dublin match in Kilkenny v Laois last summer saw ticket sales of roughly 17,000 and the capacity was not reached. The result is that having experimented with taking Dublin out of Croke Park there is up to date, hard evidence of the capacity required.
The Slattery Report of 2011 comes into play as well. The report dictates the health and safety precautions taken around various grounds in the country.
The council continued:
The capacity for O'Moore Park is roughly 18,000. The capacity for Netwatch Cullen Park under Slattery is only 11,000.
This was the determining factor in making Portlaoise the venue for a possible Carlow v Dublin match because the evidence of 2016 is that Carlow as a venue fails to meet the potential requirement whereas Portlaoise meets it.
And so any lingering sense of injustice as to how Dublin had once more avoided an away match can be put to rest for now. As a result, however, Dublin's wait for an away game will continue until next year at least.