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Heineken Cup ties set to hit GAA coffers

THE Easter weekend scheduling of the Heineken Cup quarter-finals could cost the GAA a considerable amount of revenue from lost gate receipts as they clash with the final round of the Allianz Football League and the Division 1B hurling final.

Munster are due to play Ulster at Thomond Park on Sunday, April 8 (1.45 kick-off) which is one of the glamour days in the NFL.

Sixteen football games are scheduled for the same afternoon (2.30) and even if the throw-ins were delayed until after the rugby match, it would still result in a big drop-off in attendances.

The GAA deferred the 2006 Kerry- Galway NFL final until after the Munster- Leinster Heineken Cup semi-final but it drew a poor response from the public as less than 8,000 turned out in Limerick for the evening throw-in.

Bringing forward the NFL games to Saturday is an option but would require afternoon starts as Leinster are due to play Cardiff Blues in another Heineken Cup quarter-final at Lansdowne Road (5.45).

Afternoon starts on Saturday are not popular in the GAA, even for championship games, and would be even less so for the NFL, resulting in a serious loss of gate revenue.

It remains to be seen how the GAA reacts to the scheduling clash but the chances are that they will proceed on Sunday as planned and take the financial hit.

Among the glamour NFL games scheduled for Sunday, April 8 are Cork v Dublin, Kerry v Mayo and Donegal v Down. Because it’s the final round of games in the top three divisions, they all have to throw in at the same time, thereby preventing counties from making private agreements on starting arrangements.

The April 8 NFL games are as follows:

Div 1:Cork v Dublin; Kerry v Mayo; Laois v Down; Donegal v Armagh.

Div 2:Galway v Kildare; Tyrone v Monaghan; Meath v Louth; Westmeath v Derry;

Div 3:Sligo v Roscommon; Tipperary v Offaly; Longford v Wexford; Cavan v Antrim; Div4:London v Wicklow; Clare v Kilkenny; Leitrim v Waterford; Carlow v Fermanagh.

Irish Independent