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Dublin: 9 °C Sunday 20 April, 2014

Dublin’s Spring Series in jeopardy as return to Parnell Park on the cards

The Dubs may pull the plug on Croke Park for League games.

A view of a Spring Series game from Hill 16.
A view of a Spring Series game from Hill 16.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

DUBLIN MAY BE forced to play all of their League games next year at Parnell Park rather than Croke Park.

For the past three seasons the Dubs have played all of their home Division 1 football games at GAA Headquarters.

It was expected that they would be back again in 2014, but falling attendances and the lack of available double-headers may mean that the All-Ireland champions have to head back to the much smaller Parnell Park.

Dublin County Board chairman Andy Kettle says that a decision will have to be made shortly and admits that a return to the 9,000-capacity stadium in Donnycarney is on the cards.

“It’s going to have to happen fairly soon,” he told TheScore.ie. “If we are going with Croke Park we would have to put together a ticket package and we would want to hit the Christmas market with that.”

The Boys in Blue start off their Allianz League Division 1 campaign at home against Kerry on 1 February. Their other home games are Cork (1 March), Kildare (8/9 March) and Mayo (29 March).

It appears that it won’t be possible for them to play some of their games next year in Croke Park and others in Parnell Park. In other words it’s all or nothing for Spring Series 2014.

“Playing in two venues creates its own problems,” explained Kettle. “In the past we have sold group tickets for all of the games together and that was very successful. I don’t think you could do that with two stadiums, particularly when one is as small as Parnell Park.”

Dublin’s hurlers play host to Clare on 23 February and Kilkenny on 15 March, which means they will be unable to play any double-headers with the footballers.

Stand-alone League fixtures saw attendances at the Spring Series suffer and just over 10,000 spectators paid to watch Dublin-Down in March this year – the smallest crowd to watch a Spring Series fixture.

Double-header

This year the Dubs played one double-header — against Tyrone in football and Limerick in hurling on 16 March.

Last year Kildare were given a financial incentive to move their home game against Donegal from Newbridge to Croke Park to raise the curtain for Dublin-Cork.

The Lilywhites have pulled the plug on a planned Friday night fixture with the Dubs on 7 March and it is unlikely that any other county would switch a game to accommodate the Dubs.

“Obviously we have a very big decision to make and we are going to have to make it pretty soon.

“We are going to have to Croke Park about the rental of the stadium and there are a lot of costs involved with that so obviously we have to see is it economically viable.”

Dublin’s two home games are almost certain to be in Parnell Park and the footballers may also have to join them. As Kettle observed: “The place would be packed to the rafters.”

The Spring Series started in 2011 and the average attendance across four events was 28,493. That rose to 31,526 last year even though there were only three events. Last year that number plummeted to 19,082 despite five events taking place.

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