Celtic Park will not be the venue of Derry City’s 2017 ‘home’ Airtricity League of Ireland Premier League fixtures.
Despite persistent rumours over the past couple of months that the city’s premier GAA grounds was a possible destination for the Candy Stripes, the ‘Journal’ understands the Lone Moor Road remains a non-starter.
Celtic Park had been Derry City’s preferred choice while the redevelopment of the Brandywell takes place but for that to happen it would require a rule change within the GAA, something that can only be passed at the National Congress in Croke Park on February 24 and 25th, the same weekend as Derry begin their league campaign.
‘Rule 42’ currently forbids the use of GAA facilities for sports outside the control of the association and while it was set aside following an amendment in 2005 to allow the Ireland rugby and soccer teams to play games at Croke Park while Lansdowne Road was being redeveloped, that is unlikely in this case.
Any motion would have to be brought by a club to the Derry County Convention on December 12th for discussion where, if successful, it would then progress to the National event.
However, even a successful rule change - which requires a two third plus one majority at the National Congress - would be unlikely to take effect until 2018.
Sources at the FAI are continuing to work closely with Derry City on the issue but a similar motion brought to the 2016 GAA National Congress was emphatically defeated by 197 votes to 106. The motion, seeking an amendment to ‘Rule 42’ to allow all county grounds to be opened to non-GAA sports (which currently applies to Croke Park), was brought by Clare club, St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay but received little support from delegates.
It leaves Maginn Park as Derry’s only viable option with informal talks already taking place between the club and Inishowen League officials.