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Are you for Clones or Croke Park?

Austin O'Callaghan | 15:59 UK time, Wednesday, 23 June 2010

As soon as referee Marty Duffy blows the full-time whistle in Cavan this Sunday, Ulster GAA officials will gather to decide where to stage next month's Ulster final. They have a few choices.

Strong cases will be made to take the game to Croke Park. The Dublin venue is available on 18 July and Ulster has already shown it works having staged three consecutive provincial finals there in 2004-06.

clones.jpgIs St Tiernach's Park the best venue for the Ulster final?

And we all like the idea of a trip to Croker. It seems to send out a little statement about the healthy state of the northern game.

There will be other voices in support of Casement Park which is at the heart of Ulster's new strategic master plan. The west Belfast venue has become more of a football ground than a hurling one so far this summer - and if proposed Government money comes online, it could well become the GAA's new permanent home north of the border.

However, in my view, Clones is the obvious choice for the 2010 final. Yes, the traffic can be lousy. And It may not be everyone's favourite ground but it is tailor-made for next month's decider.

Whether it is Tyrone v Fermanagh or Tyrone v Monaghan, St Tiernach's Park should be at or close to its 35,000 capacity.

Surely a packed, heaving ground adds more to the Ulster final experience than a crowd of 40,000+ which, while very respectable, will simply look lost in a Croke Park stadium built for 82,000.

Choosing Clones will probably mean tickets will be in demand. Ultimately some supporters may be left disappointed but there is, at least, the consolation of live TV.

Another argument (which makes the dangerous assumption that Monaghan will beat Fermanagh) is that Clones would give the Farney County an unfair 'home' advantage.

This is nonsense. What was the score again in the 2007 Ulster final? St Tiernach's Park looked more like Brian Dooher's back garden that day than Thomas Freeman's.

Perhaps, I am missing something here, but all the signs point to a trip to Clones. Am I right?

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