Leinster in move to help Dub champions
THE Leinster Council are preparing to roll out massive concessions to Dublin to allow their football champions to participate in the provincial club championships.
Leinster's CCC (Competitions Control Committee) is recommending that the Leinster club championship game between the Dublin and Meath champions should be put back by three weeks from October 23 to November 13, so that the Dublin champions can be determined in time.
And it is also proposed that the football final, originally scheduled for December 4, will now go back to December 18 as a consequence of the delays in the Dublin championships.
The proposals are due to go before the Leinster Council on Wednesday night of next week, but in advance of that gathering, the 12 chairmen in the province were being asked at a meeting last night to discuss the potential changes.
The first round of the hurling championship involving the Dublin champions against the Westmeath champions will be put back by just one week if the proposals are passed, with the date of the final -- Sunday, November 27 -- remaining unchanged.
In exchange for the concessions which will allow Dublin to get their much-delayed championships finished within a reasonable time-frame, the Dubs have pledged to undertake a radical overhaul of the way they roll out their own fixtures programme ahead of 2012.
"Dublin have promised to set up a high-powered fixtures committee aimed at looking at ways to avoid this situation in the future," said Leinster chairman Martin Skelly.
The proposals were not a "fait accompli", according to Skelly, who added that counties would decide if the changes were feasible or not.
He said the circumstances of Dublin in 2011 were "unique" and that came into consideration when the CCC considered Dublin's request for latitude.
But the move may not be universally accepted in Leinster and, if it's not, it would mean that one of the favourites for the All-Ireland club title would not be at the starting post -- the Dublin champions would traditionally be one of the strongest powers.
Leinster have shown little flexibility to counties falling behind on fixtures in the past. Two years ago Meath had to play their senior county final replay on a Thursday night to make sure the eventual champions Seneschalstown were able to play in the Leinster championship three days later. Ultimately, they were well beaten by Portlaoise.
A year earlier the Wexford football champions, Matty Forde's Kilanerin, declined to play a Leinster quarter-final against Meath champions Navan O'Mahonys, because it was fixed for 24 hours after their own county final on the first Saturday afternoon in November.
The proposed concessions for Dublin, even allowing for the extraordinary nature of their inter-county season that saw them reach four major All-Ireland finals in the space of two weeks, are sure to irk some other Leinster counties.
The fixtures scheduling in Dublin has been a source of constant concern in the province for some time now.
No senior football championship match has taken place for the best part of four months now, which has left club players in isolation throughout the best part of the year.
The Ballyboden St Enda's/St Mary's match, which was the subject of a Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA) ruling in June, will not take place until Wednesday of next week. A number of hurling championship matches will get under way in Parnell Park on Saturday and Sunday this weekend.
"Obviously some counties will air grievances, but you have to look at Dublin and say what went on this year was unique. When did it happen before that a county reached four finals in two codes?" said Skelly.
Last year Cork reached minor and senior football finals and were also involved in the senior hurling championship up to the semi-final stage, but their county hurling and football finals were still played well within schedule and in time for the Munster club championships. If the proposals are passed next week, the Leinster club football championship could not afford any weather or replay delays if it is to finish in the same calendar year. Last year Kilmacud Crokes and Rhode played the final at the end of January.