BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Croke Park not neutral for Dublin

BRIAN MCENIFF COLUMN: Croke Park not neutral for Dublin

After the high of the Sunday night and Monday we were fairly brought back down to earth with bang in Tuesday evening of last week.

The news that Patrick McBrearty was out for the rest of the season with a dreaded cruciate injury was a real shock. It is, let me say first of all, a devastating blow to Patrick personally.

Players want to be playing football and especially in high profile games that are coming up next in the Super 8s. On a personal level I want to wish Patrick well and a speedy recovery and hope the rehab goes well.

The injury is also a devastating blow to Donegal and their prospects in the Super 8s. He is one of the top forwards in the game and was in great form and was playing the football of his life this season.

He may be only 24 but he is also a very experienced player and brings a lot to the table and ticks many boxes. As well as scoring from play he is also very accurate from frees and is a quality forward and he leaves a big gap for Declan Bonner and his management team to fill.

The only consolation, if there is one, it is that Declan has two weeks’ notice and it will give him time to consider his options and try out a number of things.

But there is no getting away from it, Patrick is a huge loss. He is also a huge loss to his club Kilcar and their prospects of retaining their senior championship title.

The All-Ireland championship is getting down to the serious end from now on. We will finally get to know our Super 8 opponents next week.

We are in a group with Dublin, and the winners of next weekend’s meeting of Roscommon and Armagh and Tyrone and Cork.

We have two away games - one supposed to be at a neutral venue - and one at home. which brings me to a real problem I have with the Super 8 draw.

Our first game is against Dublin in Croke Park which is our neutral venue tie.

Imagine, Croke Park is seen as a neutral venue for Dublin. By the way they will also play their home game in Croke Park. So Croke Park is both a neutral and home venue for Dublin.

I think this is grossly unfair. We all know Parnell Park is technically Dublin’s home ground but Croke Park is the Dubs spiritual home.

In normaI circumstances I don’t have a problem playing Dublin in Croke Park, even though we all know it is worth at least five or six points to them.

But this is different. On a point of principle the regulation for the Super 8s clearly state each team has one home game, one away game and one at a neutral venue.

Croke Park is no way a neutral venue for Dublin so effectively Donegal won’t play a game in the Super 8s at neutral venue.

St Tiernach’s Park in Clones is the ideal venue for that game. I would urge Donegal officials, even at this 11th hour in the interest of fair play and a level playing field, to push for a move to Clones. We saw how Kildare fared at the weekend when they dug in their heels.

Mayo are out of the championship following their defeat to Kildare on Saturday evening.

I must say I felt sorry for them because that is probably the end of that team now. And after coming so close on a number of occasions to winning the All-Ireland their chance is gone now.

They were very unfortunate; they happened to come up against an exceptionally good Dublin team in the last few seasons. They also lost a semi-final to Kerry and a final to ourselves in 2012.

For the last seven or eight years they have been the second best team in the country. But they lacked just that little extra to take them over the line on big days.

Brian McEniff was in conversation with Tom Comack.