Irish Derby To Clash With Hurling Championships

Irish Derby To Clash With Hurling Championships

Derek McGrath has vented his frustration over the GAA's decision to stage a crucial Hurling fixture less than five km away from the Curragh and the Irish Derby meeting this weekend.

The recently renovated racecourse's commander in chief, has described the decision as 'disappointing', twelve months after Kildare's 'Newbridge or nowhere' showdown with Mayo coincided with Latrobe’s memorable success for brothers Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien.

This time around, a crucial All-Ireland qualifier involving Kildare at St. Conleth’s Park in Newbridge will take place just 20 minutes before Ireland's feature Classic kicks off, where Anthony Van Dyck will bid to do the iconic Derby double for trainer Aidan O'Brien.

McGrath says whilst he respects the decision, he fears for the figures both on track and off the track.

(Credit: Racing Post) He said: "Certainly it's disappointing for the Derby itself given the proximity of both events.

"An approach was made to the GAA but we have to respect the fact it has a lot of matches on during the weekend and it has to make decisions in the best interest of its own sport."

He added: "It's just an unfortunate clash as they are both important events. Unfortunately the GAA weren't able to meet our requests.

"A request was made that the match be played later or on another day but that was denied and we have to respect that. We're still looking forward to a great three days of racing."

With double the volume of traffic expected, racegoers are set to endure havoc travelling by car to the venue as roadworks continue to take place on the M7, the main road bridging Dublin to the Curragh.

"It's not the first time it has clashed. Particularly around this time of year we come up against a lot of events and we have to promote our own event as best we can," McGrath continued.

"We know we have a very important weekend for Irish racing ahead of us and I think that will attract a lot of people."

The GAA going ahead with Saturday’s match will come as a big blow to Curragh officials who have been doing their best to promote the Derby fixture this weekend in the local community in Kildare.

Legendary commentator Dessie Scahill - now retired, will host a legends' evening at the Silken Thomas bar in Kildare, reliving previous Derby memories with familiar faces John Oxx, Johnny Murtagh, Dermot Weld, Christy Roche, Pat Smullen and Seamie Heffernan.