DERRY’S massive Division One meeting with All-Ireland SFC champions Dublin next month is not expected to shift in any way despite the potential proximity of a major soccer match.
The Oak Leafers are due to host the Dubs at Celtic Park with a 5pm throw-in on Saturday March 2, just two hours after the scheduled kick-off of an Irish Cup quarter-final between Institute and Linfield at the nearby Brandywell, home of Derry City.
The games going ahead at those times would present obvious security and logistical issues with an influx of supporters to Derry from both Belfast and Dublin.
Derry’s showdown with Dublin, who defeated them in last year’s Division Two Final, has been scheduled for some time, and is also set to be broadcast live by RTE.
Institute, who are understandably unwilling to concede ‘home’ advantage at their adopted venue, cannot switch the match to the Friday evening as Derry City themselves are due to host a team from Dublin – St Patrick’s Athletic – in a League of Ireland game.
Some doubt has now been cast over that Irish Cup quarter-final match-up due to Ards – who were knocked out by Institute – submitting an appeal to the IFA alleging a breach of rule by the Drumahoe club.
If the soccer game does go ahead at the Brandywell, the likelihood is that the kick-off time will be brought forward, perhaps to 1pm.
Even then there could be traffic concerns with Dublin and Derry supporters arriving while Institute and Linfield fans are leaving the city.
A PSNI statement said that “appropriate and proportionate policing operations will be in place in order to keep people safe”, although it is understood that there have already been discussions involving the IFA, Institute, and Linfield about the prospect of altering the kick-off time.