Friday 15 December 2017

Colm O'Rourke: Catching the spring tide

For Mickey Harte, Joe Kernan and Pat Gilroy, the pressure begins early this year, writes Colm O'Rourke

T he league takes off this weekend like a runaway train with action on all fronts. In terms of maximising attendances, the idea of staging most of the matches today is hardly enlightened.

The players, publicans and nightclubs in Derry, Portlaoise and Navan were all happy to have their games last night but, as I wrote last week, attendances on Sundays at this time of year are not nearly what can be mustered for a midweek game. With a couple of matches on tv this afternoon, it might be very appealing to many to just sit at home and watch football, racing and soccer.

This year offered an opportunity for the GAA to experiment, an opportunity that has been lost. Counties close to each other could have started last Thursday or Friday night. For example, Roscommon and Cavan would have attracted a very decent crowd on Thursday. It will be much smaller today with all the counter-attractions -- racing in Leopardstown and Arsenal v Chelsea being just two of them, while Dublin and Kerry on telly will keep many at home.

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