by Declan Rooney
Galway defender Declan Kyne says it’s time for Dublin’s All-Ireland semi-finals to be moved out of Croke Park to a neutral venue.
Kyne (28) and Galway lost out to Dublin in the last four at Croke Park last summer and the Clonbur club man thinks Dublin’s home advantage played a part on the day.
That was the third game between the sides last year, following the national league draw in Pearse Stadium and Dublin’s win in the Division 1 final at Croke Park, and with the aim of a level playing field Kyne thinks it’s unfair for the four-in-a-row winners to play the majority of their matches in the capital.
In 2018 Dublin played their Leinster semi-final and final, two Super 8s games, and the All-Ireland semi-final and final at Croke Park. Kyne thinks familiar surroundings must have benefited the champions.
“Dublin are so used to playing in Croke Park, maybe it’s a slight advantage of them. Whereas teams like us wouldn’t be playing every weekend in it,” said Kyne.
“It definitely makes a difference. Maybe semi-finals at least should be played at a neutral venue. There are plenty of grounds around the country that could host a semi-final if the GAA wanted to go that way.
“Even for the Super 8s in Croke Park it’s a big advantage for Dublin. They had two home games there last year.
“With the home and away games in the Super 8s there is a nice atmosphere around the home grounds. Last year the games that stick in my mind are (Kildare in) Newbridge and against Monaghan in Pearse Stadium.
“There is huge excitement in the towns for those games and it makes for more of a spectacle for the crowd and that rubs off on the pitch then. Hopefully they’ll [the GAA] look into it.”
A little over 54,000 spectators saw Dublin beat Galway by nine points in the semi-final last year, and despite his gripe about Croke Park, Kyne acknowledges Galway fell short of Dublin in 2018, but that the gap might not be as big as people think.
“It’s never nice to lose a semi-final, and the season is over straight away when you lose such a big game.
“We had them in Pearse Stadium and we got a draw there in the league. We were leading the whole game and they pulled it back in the end. The next few months is all about trying to get up to their level in the league and trying to target the championship after that.
“But you can’t be afraid of any team. If you go out thinking you are not good enough to beat them then you won’t beat them. We realised maybe we are not too far behind them and they’re not that far ahead of the chasing pack really.
“There are three or four teams behind Dublin that are fairly close to them. They can be beaten. You saw Monaghan in the league last year, they beat them. If we just improve on the small things and get used to the new rules then they can be caught.”
Last year’s league finalists launch their Division 1 campaign at home to Cavan this Sunday, but Kyne is unlikely to feature after he picked up an ankle injury in last weekend’s FBD League final defeat to Roscommon.
“I had a scan yesterday and it’s all clear really, just swelling and bruising. It’s nothing too serious and I should be okay in a week or two.
“I just rolled the ankle and the physio reckoned the bone bent a bit but it didn’t break thankfully. It’s nothing too serious but it was very painful at the time. Better to come off and be safe.”