Delaney happy with addition of 'outside' pair
LEINSTER hurling championship games could be played in Pearse Stadium and Casement Park by 2012, if Galway and Antrim retain their eastern links.
Games involving Galway and Antrim were played at Leinster venues for the past two seasons and while the same will apply in 2011, change may be on the way after that. Galway and Antrim joined the Leinster championship for an initial three years which expires next season, after which all parties will assess the state of play.
Leinster Council chief-executive, Michael Delaney said that from their perspective, the participation of Galway and Antrim had worked well.
"It's added a bit of excitement which was good for the championship. It's up to Galway and Antrim to decide on how they see the arrangement, but so far I think it's positive," he said.
He indicated that if Galway and Antrim were to remain in Leinster on a permanent basis, the question of venues for their games would become an issue. He said that Leinster would "be open to talks" about playing some games in Pearse Stadium and Casement Park as part of the extended 'home and away' arrangements now favoured by the Council.
Both Galway and Antrim will concede home advantage again next year, according to provisional arrangements, which will come before the Leinster Council for ratification next week. Antrim will travel to Portlaoise to take on Laois, while Galway will play Westmeath or Carlow in Cusack Park or Dr Cullen Park.
The final will be the only Leinster hurling game played in Croke Park. The semi-finals will be played on separate days and while the venues won't be decided until the pairings are finalised, it's understood if Wexford qualify to play Kilkenny it will be the start of a 'home' and 'away' system.
Laois will do well with home venues next year as their footballers will also have their first round clash with Longford in Portlaoise in a double header with Kildare v Wicklow on May 22. Dublin's football games will continue to be played in Croke Park because of its large capacity, but otherwise, the plan is to play as many games as possible at grounds around the province. "We have some fine grounds so it makes sense to use them," said Delaney.
Meanwhile, Galway will be the last team to enter the 2011 All-Ireland FC race, playing their first game against Mayo or London in the Connacht semi-final on the weekend of June 25/26. That's eight weeks after the Connacht championship begins in Gaelic Park when New York host Mayo, underlining yet again the long drawn out nature of the provincial championships. Munster and Ulster have yet to announce their championship dates and venues.
May 1, Rd 1: New York v Roscommon, Gaelic Park. May 29, Rd 1: London v Mayo, Ruislip. June 4/5, Rd 1: Sligo v Leitrim, Markievicz Park. June 18/19: Sligo/Leitrim v New York/ Roscommon, Markievicz Park or Carrick-on-Shannon. June 25/26: London/ Mayo v Galway, Castlebar. July 17: Final.
May 22, Rd 1: Kildare v Wicklow; Laois v Longford, Portlaoise. May 28, Rd 1: Wexford v Offaly, Tullamore. June 5, quarter-finals: Meath v Kildare/Wicklow; Dublin v Laois/Longford, Croke Park. June 12, quarter-finals: Westmeath v Wexford/ Offaly; Carlow v Louth (venue to be decided). June 26, semi-finals: Kildare/ Wicklow/ Meath v Dublin/Laois/Longford; Wexford/ Offaly/Westmeath v Carlow/ Louth, Croke Park. July 10,final: Croke Park.
May 15, Rd 1: Laois v Antrim, Portlaoise; Carlow v Westmeath, Dr.Cullen Park. May 29: Quarter-finals: Wexford v Laois/ Antrim, Portlaoise/Wexford; Dublin v Offaly, Parnell Park. June 4, quarter-final: Carlow/Westmeath v Galway, Dr Cullen Park or Mullingar. June 18, semi-final: Kilkenny v Antrim/Laois/Wexford (Venue tbd). June 19, semi-final: Carlow/ Westmeath/Galway v Dublin/Offaly (Venue tbd). July 3, final: Croke Park.