Laois GAA Chairman Brian Allen is confident the fallout from the much-publicised fight between Dromid Pearses and Derrytresk will not affect the number of games assigned to Laois from Croke Park.
The use of O’Moore Park as a neutral venue for club and intercounty games is a valuable source of income for Laois GAA, and despite the stewarding of the incident drawing criticism, Allen is confident it will not have an adverse affect on the use of the county grounds for high-profile matches in future. “This is an isolated incident, we host a lot of games in O’Moore Park and we’ve not had this with visiting teams.
“I can’t see it affecting us, we run our games very efficiently and people have always been impressed with how we host games.”
Allen laid the blame for what happened with the individuals and clubs involved, stating it is not the responsibility of stewards to stop incidents such as these when they start. “Voluntary stewards are not expected to stop a fight when it starts, clubs are responsible for their players and officials and there are rules and regulations in place for that.
“The speed the subs entered the field at was the issue, nobody could have stopped them, they took off at high speed. Unless we had people standing in front of them we couldn’t have stopped them, and even then they probably would have gone through them or over them.
“Stewards can only do a certain amount at the end of the day” confessed Allen, before going on to say that “it is not his (a steward) job to put himself in danger, it is to curtail it.”
The Laois chairman also revealed the decision not to have a Garda present was in conjuction with national guidelines, while Allen also confirmed that what happened on Sunday will not change the way Laois GAA plans for hosting games with visiting teams. He also said that should an investigation be launched, that stewards on the day “would not have a problem giving their side of events.”
Allen also revealed that a game like the one on Sunday could be worth in the region of e2,000 to the county board coffers, with games in the Leinster Championship and All-Ireland Qualifiers worth considerably more.
O’Moore Park is set to host a number of high-profile games this year, including Kildare v Offaly in the Leinster SFC Quarter-Final, while the county grounds will also be the venue for both of the Leinster SHC semi-finals on June 17 and 23 respectively.
Work is also required to be carried out to the terrace in O’Moore Park after the findings of the Slattery Report, as some of the barriers will have to be updated in line with current Health and Safety guidelines. This was not an issue during Sunday’s game, but is something Laois will have to rectify in the future to have the capacity of the ground increased.