Sport Gaelic Football

Thursday 23 November 2017

GAA looking at later dates for All-Ireland finals

Marie Crowe, EXCLUSIVE

Moves are afoot to switch the All-Ireland hurling and football finals from their traditional dates to further back in September.

Next summer is jam-packed with sports events, including the European Championships and the Olympics, and while it's unlikely that these events alone would result in the finals being rescheduled, it is possible that the staging of the Navy v Notre Dame College American football game could result in the games being pushed back from their traditional dates on the first and third Sundays in September. The American football game is set to be played on Saturday, September 1 at the Aviva Stadium and should be a sell-out.

Over 20,000 Americans are expected to attend and it will be available to a worldwide TV audience. Notre Dame officials say it will be the largest ever invasion of Ireland by US sports fans. The fact that there are five Sundays in September 2012, as opposed to the usual four, would also make rescheduling the games more realistic.

And changing the dates of the All-Ireland finals is not unprecedented -- in 2006 the GAA brought the finals forward by a week to avoid a clash with the Ryder Cup.

It's also possible that the proposed change could be part of a broader picture to regularise the GAA calendar and ensure that the club championships are played before the weather turns bad.

The proposed date change comes just days after the Clare and Kilkenny hurling finals were played in impossible conditions and the Galway hurling semi-final was abandoned at half-time as a result of the weather.

Last month, Dublin chairman Andy Kettle said he believed the Dublin County Board will bring a motion to next year's GAA Annual Congress calling for the All-Ireland hurling and football finals to be played in August.

Such a proposal would help to avoid a repeat of this year's disastrous Dublin club championship which saw a backlog of games in the county and forced a rescheduling of the Leinster football and hurling championships.

The Leinster football final will now not take place until December 18, just one week before Christmas. When contacted yesterday, a spokesperson for the GAA was unable to confirm the proposals. Elsewhere, Cork boss Jimmy Barry-Murphy has chosen veteran Donal Og Cusack to captain the hurlers for the coming season. Barry-Murphy has already shown faith in the old guard by recalling Sean Og O hAilpin to the panel.

"Shane O'Neill has stepped down as he suffered a number of injuries over the past 12 months," said the Cork manager yesterday, "and now wishes to concentrate on his own game. As a result, the management appoint Donal Og as captain, with Patrick Horgan vice-captain."

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