The GAA have turned a deaf ear to a request from The Curragh to reschedule Saturday's All-Ireland Championship third round qualifier between Kildare and Tyrone in Newbridge to avoid a clash with the first Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby run at the newly refurbished Curragh racecourse.
The Lilywhites are set to play Tyrone in St Conleth's Park at five o'clock. Just minutes away on County Kildare's famed Curragh plains, the Irish Derby is set to go to post at 5.20.
The two venues are less than five miles apart and with roadworks still ongoing on the N7, there are legitimate fears that traffic chaos could ensue.
The famous Newbridge or Nowhere saga from last year clashed with the Irish Derby, won by Latrobe. However, capacity at The Curragh on that occasion was restricted as part of the improvement works at the racecourse. The Curragh has since been redeveloped at significant cost. This year will be the first running of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the refurbished venue. The Derby is the biggest race run at The Curragh annually. This year's renewal is even more important given the criticism the venue has endured during the rebuilding works.
While crowd predictions for The Curragh vary, the significantly increased size and warm weather bode well for the potential attendance. St Conleth's Park is expected to be a sell-out, with the capacity at the Newbridge ground is 8,200.
The Curragh management has been criticised over attendances in recent times. Many industry stakeholders, including in a recent think-in, suggested the racecourse should engage with the local area. Two of the largest sporting events in the locality happening simultaneously hampers any effort the racecourse has made to act on those suggestions.
The Curragh CEO Derek McGrath has expressed his disappointment at the clash, when speaking to OTB earlier:
"We were disappointed to learn that the fixture was positioned right up against the Derby."
"Representations had been made to the GAA. We understood that there were available slots to avoid the Derby, so from that point of view it is disappointing."
"We are in the fortunate position that a lot of people have already made the decision to come to the Derby and our scheduling has been known for some time. It's more disappointing for a lot people who will be here and will probably want to be in Newbridge and those in Newbridge who will probably want to be here. That's the most disappointing aspect of it."
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