The Connacht rugby team will not be allowed to play their home matches at GAA ground Pearse Stadium this season, unless they get permission following a special vote at Congress.
Eric Elwood’s side will compete in the Heineken Cup for the first time ever in 2012, if Leinster beat the Northampton Saints in the final on Saturday week. Connacht would then be on the lookout for a venue to play their home games,as their current headquarters,the Sportsground in Galway, only has a capacity of 5,500.
Dubarry Park in Athlone is one option that the provincial can look. The stadium has a capacity of 10,000. However, GAA officials in Galway are believed to be open to the idea of allowing the rugby team use Pearse Stadium. The problem in this is that the GAA would need to vote at congress to approve the move. This year’s congress has already taken place,so it would take an EGM for any movement to occur on the matter.
Galway County Board chairman Gerry Larkin told the Irish Times: “At present it would take a decision by Congress before the way could be opened to play rugby. Congress will not take place until next April, although a special Congress could be called. We have not been approached by Connacht or anyone else seeking the use of Pearse Stadium. It would have to be referred to Croke Park”.
Larkin added: ‘Personally, I would have no problem with rugby being played there and most GAA people would have a similar view. There is a much more broad-minded approach to these things these days. It’s not that long ago that it would have been unthinkable for Galway to be playing in the Leinster hurling championship or the queen visiting Croke Park.
“Things move on. The Connacht coach Eric Elwood played football for Galway and the captain John Muldoon, a neighbour of my own, played minor hurling for Galway. I wish them well and hope they get into the Heineken Cup”.