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The GAA Slam The Door In The Face Of Connacht Rugby's European Hopes

The GAA Slam The Door In The Face Of Connacht Rugby's European Hopes
By Conor O'Leary

Well that dream didn't last long did it?

Less than 24 hours after Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane admitted that they were looking to bring their marquee European games to a bigger stadium - possibly McHale Park in Mayo - the GAA have firmly shut the door on that idea.

Connacht play their games at the Sportsground which is limited to 9,500 with additional temporary terracing - but have been forced to turn away thousands of fans due to the success of the team in recent weeks. So it makes sense that they would look for a temporary solution for next season's big games to try and get as big a crowd as possible behind the team - both Pearse Stadium in Salthill (26,000 capacity), and McHale Park (38,000) were mentioned as possibilities.

But Connacht GAA Secretary John Prenty poured cold water on the suggestion yesterday claiming that there was nothing that the GAA could do, (via the Irish Times):

The association have agreed that we would apply for GAA grounds to be used for the Rugby World Cup, if it is to come here.

So that’s the policy now and if it happens we’d be fighting tooth and nail to get as many games as possible, because financially it would be an advantage to the region.

Our hands are tied with regard to Connacht Rugby because it is only for the World Cup that the rule has been passed. It is not an issue really.

I don’t think you’ll see the day where it’s a regular thing. It’ll be once-off situations like the world cups because it will benefit the country nationally.

But if we bid for the World Cup and we get it, I’m sure there will be another move after that again, but in the interim I don’t think anything like that will happen.

The problem is that the association has to allow each non GAA event at any of their grounds, and they are unlikely to meet until council next February - which would be too late for Connacht Rugby's European season. Other than the hosting of the Rugby World Cup in either 2023 or 2027 would be allowed under current association rules.

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Rugby fans in Mayo live in wait.

See Also: European Rugby Could Be Coming To Mayo Next Season

Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

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