Austin Stacks Chairman Expresses Disappointment At Delay In Naming Venue For Munster Final

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Chairman of Austin Stacks GAA Club Billy Ryle. Photo by Dermot Crean

THE Chairman of Austin Stacks has expressed disappointment that the venue for next month’s Munster Club Championship Final has not been finalised yet.

Billy Ryle said the club was willing to toss a coin for home or away venue but Cork champions St Finbarrs are insisting on a neutral venue for the game to be played on Sunday January 16.

In a press statement on the issue released this evening, Mr Ryle said he was concerned about the delay in confirming the venue.

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“According to the regulations this game must be played at a neutral venue unless the teams agree to toss a coin for home venue,” he said.

“On Monday, 20th December, I was contacted by an official of Munster GAA, who informed me that Limerick GAA Board and Tipperary GAA Board were not keen to make Limerick Gaelic Grounds and Semple Stadium, Thurles, respectively, available for the game. That took me aback as this game, along with the equivalent hurling final, is the most prestigious fixture in the Munster club competitions.”

The official asked Mr Ryle if Austin Stacks would agree to toss a coin for a home fixture in Austin Stack Park, Tralee or Páirc Uí Rinn, Cork.

After he consulted with club officials, he told the official that Austin Stacks was very happy to toss a coin for home venue.

“The prospect of playing the game in Tralee on the 16th January is very attractive to Austin Stacks. The famous Rockie supporters – The 16th Man – would bring their customary carnival razzamatazz and good humour to the occasion,” he said.

“If the toss went against us, Austin Stacks would look forward to a great spectacle in Páirc Uí Ring, which would be invaded by our loyal supporters. We would have a mardi gras style carnival parade up Patrick St., the likes of which has never before been seen in Cork even in the hay-day of the great Jack Lynch. We would outnumber the home support by a ratio of two to one and our gallant team would beat The Barrs in their own backyard.”

However, the Munster GAA official informed Mr Ryle on Tuesday morning, 21st December, that St. Finbarr’s were not prepared to toss for home venue and were insisting on a neutral venue.

“I was disappointed by their rejection of an opportunity to have the game played in Cork. Or perhaps, they are running scared of The Rock and not prepared to risk the game being played in Tralee!” said Mr Ryle.

“I informed the Munster GAA official that, in that event, Austin Stacks would prefer to play the final at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick but that we would have no problem in going to Thurles if Munster GAA so decreed.”

“Since Tuesday, 21st December, I have been to-and-fro with Munster GAA. In my final communication with Munster GAA about 5pm on Thursday, 23rd December, I was informed that Munster GAA hadn’t anything confirmed yet as the Gaelic grounds and Semple stadium won’t commit at the moment. Munster GAA added that their management committee will meet on the 4th January to try and tie the details down.”

“I am concerned by the lack of urgency in that statement which confirms that no decision will be taken about the venue before the 4th January, at the earliest, nine working days before the game is due to be played.”

“Austin Stacks needs adequate time to put the normal logistical arrangements in place. We need to know where the game is being played. This is a very big game for The Rock, Tralee and Kerry, so I want to avoid any procrastination and indecision during the week of 4th January which could result in a venue for the game not been decided until the eleventh hour.”

“I have informed Munster GAA that Austin Stacks’ offer to toss a coin for home venue remains on the table and in the spirit of the Christmas season, I am requesting St. Finbarr’s to reconsider their refusal to help out Munster GAA in its present difficulty,” he continued.

“It’s a great opportunity to keep the game local for one of the teams. Tralee or Cork will get a much-needed financial fillip. If St. Finbarr’s win the toss, Austin Stacks will look forward to playing them and beating them in Páirc Uí Rinn on the 16th January. Alternatively, if Austin Stacks win the toss, we will look forward to playing The Barrs in Tralee where they will be given a hundred thousand welcomes by the Rockies.”

“They are guaranteed the best of hospitality in the friendliest town in Ireland and they will return to Cork with wonderful memories, albeit without the O’Connor Cup,” said Mr Ryle.

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