Wednesday 24 May 2017

Offaly seeking early Tullamore throw-in to avoid clash with Champions League

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The Leinster Council is tonight expected to approve a request to bring the time of a senior football championship fixture forward to avoid a clash with the Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona at Wembley.

Offaly, who host the Leinster quarter- final with Wexford at O'Connor Park on Saturday, May 28, will make the request.

Wexford chairman Ger Doyle said his county would have no problem with an earlier throw-in time as it would allow supporters to return home early.

Normally, an evening fixture would have a 7.0 or 7.30 start time, but with the match in London kicking off at 7.45, the impact on the attendance would have been significant.

The Down versus Armagh Ulster quarter-final in the Athletic Grounds will go ahead in a direct clash with the Wembley showpiece, with no serious consideration given by the Ulster Council to bringing the time forward. The eagerly awaited northern contest is being televised live by the BBC.

In 2002, the crowd at an Ulster championship match was significantly down when it went up against a World Cup game involving Ireland in Japan.

But Leinster are quite amenable to a time change and chief executive Mick Delaney expects a 5.0 or 5.15 throw-in in Tullamore.

"We haven't received an official request yet, but we're meeting tomorrow night and I expect it's coming," he said.

Changing the times of games to avoid clashes with other sports is a sensitive issue in some GAA circles.

The hurling league finals last year were put back to a Sunday evening start in Thurles to avoid a clash with a Munster Heineken Cup semi-final, but the attendance was no greater than it would have been for an afternoon throw-in.

Still, supporters of rugby and hurling were able to see both games.

Similarly, Offaly feel it is fair on supporters to give them the opportunity to see Offaly and Wexford and a Champions League final on TV later that night.

"We feel it is the most sensible conclusion to come to," said Offaly chairman Pat Teehan yesterday.

The option of switching to Croke Park the following day was also there last week when the Offaly versus Dublin Leinster hurling quarter-final was confirmed for headquarters to accommodate a bigger crowd in the wake of Dublin's league success.

However, Offaly opted to retain home venue.

Irish Independent

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