Yesterday's qualifiers featuring Clare vs Roscommon and Mayo vs Kildare should have been massive occasions. They were two excellent games, ones that weren't exactly short on drama.
While the football on show was entertaining, it lost far too much due to the fact that it was played in front of near empty stands in Croke Park.
The GAA's decision to bring the games to Dublin was a baffling one, especially when you consider the counties that were involved. Not only was a relatively small crowd always certain, but three of those teams and their supporters were forced to needlessly travel from the west of the country.
It was very unfair on fans, especially at a time when the cost of living is rising at a rapid rate.
McGuinness & Canavan questions GAA's use of Croke Park
Speaking on Sky Sports before the games, Jim McGuinness said it was very unfair to force loyal supporters to fork out so much money if they wanted to follow their team yesterday.
🗣️"It's a massive own goal"
🏟️Should Saturday's double-header have been held in a venue other than Croke Park? pic.twitter.com/pB0yC0aauI
— Sky Sports GAA (@SkySportsGAA) June 12, 2022
With the living crisis in the country and bringing teams from the country, all of them basically, to Croke Park.
You're looking at Clare and Roscommon and thinking that could have been in Galway easily, Kildare and Mayo maybe Tullamore.
For me personally looking at the games last weekend, the one we were covering for Sky and Tyrone vs Armagh, the provincial ground had that atmosphere with everyone packed in. I think we could have got that (yesterday)...
For the teams, I'd imagine they will be happy enough because it will give them a chance to play in Croke Park before a quarter-final if they are successful. I can see it from that point of view.
But for the people paying to come through the gate and everything that involves, there are kids and families involved in that as well, it's a lot of trekking and a lot of money.
Seemingly, the Mayo team couldn't get a hotel to stay in in Dublin, they're coming up today and going home tonight. That alone means there are a lot of question marks around it.
Comparing the atmosphere yesterday to some other recent games around the country, it certainly felt that something was lost by playing in front of an empty stadium.
It is often said that players prefer to have the opportunity to play in Croke Park, but Peter Canavan isn't certain that this is always the case.
The Tyrone legend said that considering how often teams now play at the Jones' Road venue, many would likely prefer to play in a smaller but more atmospheric grounds.
I get the point to a certain extent that players want to play here. If you've never played in Croke Park it's a dream, as a young lad or lassie you want to get playing in the mecca. But a lot of these lads have played there, a lot of Mayo players have played in Croke Park
If you give them the choice of playing in a Croke Park that is devoid of atmosphere with a lot of spare seats about, or take it to a venue that is packed to capacity with a buzz and excitement, that gives you energy in itself.
There was 15,000 at the Athletic Grounds last Sunday (for Armagh vs Tyrone), what an atmosphere...
Imagine if that game hadn't been played in Armagh? I think you're taking away from a great spectacle.
In my opinion, it's probably a massive own goal from a Croke Park point of view. I was surprised they ended up coming here.
One would hope that the GAA have learned a lesson here and won't force similar fixtures into Croke Park next year.
However, their recent track record suggests that this is unlikely to be the case.