Sunday 21 January 2018

Faithful County shoot down 'Friday Night Lights' plan

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

THE Leinster Council's hopes of hosting a Friday night game in next year's senior football championship has been met with a swift refusal.

The plan was to make the first-round game between Longford and Offaly a 'Friday Night Lights' affair in Pearse Park. However, Offaly would not countenance it, saying players and supporters in the south of their county would have too far to travel.

The Irish Independent understands that Longford officials were open to the suggestion, but, once Offaly voiced their opposition, the proposal was a dead duck at this week's Leinster championship fixtures meeting.

History was made last summer when the GAA made the controversial decision to stage an All-Ireland qualifier on a Friday night.

Leinster officials have openly admitted that they favour such games for the novelty factor and their potential to increase attendances and the counties' proximity made Laois and Carlow's qualifier last June the ideal test-case.

It attracted an attendance of 4,606 which delighted officials, but reaction was mixed, with some arguing that players should be compensated for having to take time off work to fulfil such fixtures, something the GAA immediately ruled out.

It has since proposed that two of this year's Allianz Football League games – Dublin v Kildare and Armagh v Down – take place on Friday nights. That suggestion is still under discussion.

Leinster's 2014 football championship will begin with a Saturday game on June 17 between Westmeath and Louth in Mullingar, followed next day by Longford versus Offaly and Wicklow versus Laois.

Kildare's quarter-final against Westmeath or Louth will be played in Croke Park on June 8 as part of a double-header, which will also feature Dublin versus Laois or Wicklow.

With Leinster playing their hurling qualifying section as a round-robin next, year, that competition is starting particularly early – on April 27 – in order to produce two teams for the June 1 quarter-finals.

Irish Independent

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