Friday 9 December 2016

GAA facing a huge headache if Ireland beat Italy tomorrow night in Lille

Sean McGoldrick

Published 21/06/2016 | 11:02

If Ireland make the last 16 of Euro 2016 their fixture will clash with the Leinster semi-final double-header at Croke Park
If Ireland make the last 16 of Euro 2016 their fixture will clash with the Leinster semi-final double-header at Croke Park

THE GAA could face a giant-sized headache next Sunday if the Republic of Ireland secure a third place finish in Group E at the European Championships and qualify for phase 2 of the competition.

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There is a growing possibility that Ireland’s last 16 match would be against host nation France with a 2pm kick off next Sunday.

The Leinster football semi-final double bill featuring Kildare v Westmeath and Dublin v Meath is scheduled for next Sunday as well at Croke Park.

The Kildare v Westmeath game begins at 2pm start while All-Ireland title holders Dublin take on Meath at 4pm.

The issue is further complicated because games in the knock out phase of the Euros must be decided on the day so there could be extra time and penalties.

Were this to happen the match in Paris would not finish until after 4pm – the start time of the Dublin v Meath clash.

Given Dublin’s complete dominance of the Leinster series GAA officials are already concerned about the attendance at Sunday’s double bill.

Unquestionably a direct clash with a last 16 clash in the European Championships involving the Irish soccer team would have a disastrous impact on the size of the crowd in Croke Park.

Of course, everything is dependent on Martin O’Neill’s squad fashioning a surprise win over Italy in their last group game and securing third place in Group E.

Even then it’s not definite that Ireland would be facing France on Sunday afternoon so for now the GAA can only wait and see what happens in the next 24 hours.

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