Friday 22 September 2017

Colm Keys: Nobody will care what day it is once ref blows whistle

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald watches his players before the start of yesterday's All-Ireland SHC final - whoever wins the replay won't care about what time the game is played
Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald watches his players before the start of yesterday's All-Ireland SHC final - whoever wins the replay won't care about what time the game is played

Comment Colm Keys

'An All-Ireland final should be on a Sunday but that is another decision that has been taken that we have no control over. These things are nothing to do with me. When a match is fixed, as far as I am concerned you get on with it."

These words from Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy summed up the general sentiment about the first All-Ireland hurling final (albeit a replay) to be played on a Saturday and only the second decider overall, after the 2000 All-Ireland football final replay when Kerry beat Galway.

As ever, the pragmatist in JBM hit the right note.

For sure it's not an ideal situation, even for the Ladies Football Association, who must fear that the profile of their showpiece games will be lost over the weekend in a deluge of coverage for the hurling replay. Consideration was also given to the counties that have scheduled county finals for the following day.

But it was a decision taken by Central Council last November and going back on that now would hardly reflect well on the Association's chief decision-making body. It has been a year of some novelty and the fixing of this game for a Saturday evening at 5.0 in late September may just be the most fitting of ends.

Dimension

For the first time, an All-Ireland final will be decided under floodlights (provided there is not another draw) and that attaches yet another dimension, setting it apart before a ball is even pucked.

Davy Fitzgerald may see it as a lucky omen – the only team to win a provincial title under floodlights was Waterford in 2010 when he was manager and Cork were their opponents in Semple Stadium.

The GAA has continually pushed down barriers and explored new ways to promote its games over the last two decades.

Given the level of entertainment last Sunday and throughout the hurling championship, and the reduction in ticket prices from €80 to €50 for a seat in the stand, is there anybody who will be sufficiently discommoded not to attend regardless of the length of their day, the time of their arrival home or the traffic they might encounter around the city centre?

If there is an issue about a Saturday evening replay then the time to raise it was last November in advance of a Central Council meeting, not now.

For the GAA it is a break with tradition but it shouldn't be forgotten that it is a replay. Some of the greatest matches this summer have already taken place on Saturday evenings.

Why is an All-Ireland final replay any different? Once the ball is thrown in, dates, journeys, parking – even time itself – will quickly be forgotten.

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