Declan Bonner calls for Dublin-Donegal match outside Croke Park

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Declan Bonner calls for Dublin-Donegal match outside Croke Park


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The issue of venues has been high on the agenda in Gaelic football this week before a resolution was found that would see Kildare play Mayo in their designated home ground at Newbridge rather than having to play at Croke Park as part of a double header.

With the addition of the Super 8s to the All Ireland Football Championship structures in 2018, the four teams in each group will get a game at home, away and at a neutral Croke Park.

Donegal will be in Dublin's group but Croke Park will be the neutral venue despite being the Dubs' de facto home ground.

It's something Donegal manager Declan Bonner, who guided his side to Ulster Championship glory last weekend, feels strongly about as he set out in a chat with Nathan Murphy in an interview we'll play out in full on Saturday.

"From a Donegal perspective, we're ending up playing two away games and Dublin will have two home games and through no fault of their own. This is what was laid out," he said.

"For all eight teams, it's going to be the one playing field, and I don't think it's that leveled if you have to play two matches away from home and one other team has two home games."

He added that there "seems to be a slight edge towards Dublin" given that their designated neutral pitch is Croke Park.

Given the neutral designation, Bonner said a location like Cavan or Clones would have seemed like a more appropriate place to hold such a fixture.

"If someone said the game was going to be played at a neutral venue, then you would expect somewhere like Clones, like Cavan, a neutral venue, not going into Dublin's back-yard to play a match that is a so-called neutral match," said Bonner.

He commented that Dublin's record at Croke Park means they are virtually unbeatable at GAA HQ in the Championship in recent years.

"I’ve spoken with other intercounty managers during the week. I mean, they have been the top team for the last 3-4 years now. They're basically unbeatable in Croke Park. So already there's an unfair advantage in terms of the fact that Dublin have two games in Croke Park," said Bonner.

"I mean, from a Donegal perspective, we feel we won the Ulster Championship and basically to me, by winning your provincial title, I think the first match in the group stages should be played at your home venue. Ultimately, we've ended up playing our home match at the very, very end and who knows at that stage, what will have happened."  

Bonner went further in regard to the neutral venue issue, saying, "I think maybe in the interest of fair play, and maybe a bit of common sense, let’s have a look at it."

Adding that the fixtures have not come out definitively yet, Bonner said the CCCC may look at the matter and that Donegal "would wait and see what exactly's going to happen". 

You can listen to the full interview on Saturday's Off The Ball at 4pm where Bonner will also discuss Jim McGuinness speaking to the squad and the unfortunate knee injury suffered by Paddy McBrearty.


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