Provincial councils ready to alter fixtures schedule to avoid clashes with Euro 2012
AT least one of the GAA's four provincial councils is prepared to alter its fixtures schedule for next June if there is a clash with any of Ireland's games at Euro 2012.
As Ireland sealed qualification last night for the soccer finals in Poland and Ukraine, Leinster chief executive Michael Delaney revealed they will be keeping a close eye on the Euro 2012 fixtures when they are announced on December 2.
And Ulster Council president Aoghan Farrell said that they would "reflect in a positive way" to whatever the draw throws up for Ireland.
Ulster were due to present their championship schedule to a fixtures workshop in Armagh last night before releasing them later this week.
Farrell, however, acknowledged that their fixtures would be subject to change. "We're conscious of what's going on next June and we'd be hopeful that we'd be able to avoid a clash," he said.
The top officials in all four provinces are only too well aware of the impact clashing with Ireland games could have on gate receipts.
Leinster's fixtures have already been released and Delaney said they had been drawn up with the finals of Euro 2012 in mind.
"Obviously, we don't have Ireland's fixtures yet, but we have looked at what the potential clashes are and we have tried to avoid televised games as much as possible," he added.
"I can't speak for other provincial councils, but I know we would certainly be keen to avoid a clash and we'll be as flexible as we have to be. We have shown that before."
Earlier this year, the time of the Leinster football championship match between Offaly and Wexford in Tullamore was brought forward from 7.0 to 5.0 to avoid a clash with the Champions League final in London between Manchester United and Barcelona.
However, on the same night, the Ulster championship quarter-final between Armagh and Down went ahead as scheduled at 7.0.
There had been calls for the Ulster Council to change the throw-in time like Leinster did -- Down's Danny Hughes was one of the most vocal critics at the time -- but they resisted on the basis that the arrangements had already been made.
A crowd of over 13,000 attended what was one of the best games of the championship and the decision was ultimately justified.
In the past, Ulster have tended to ignore Irish soccer fixtures at major championships to their cost. Only 7,000 showed up in Clones for the Derry v Donegal semi-final that clashed directly with Ireland's penalty shoot-out defeat by Spain in the last 16 of the World Cup in South Korea.
There was also a clash in 1988 when Donegal played Armagh at the same time Ireland were taking on England in the European Championship finals in Germany.
Connacht's football championship fixtures have been finalised, while Munster are about to release their fixtures.
Leinster will play just one hurling championship match -- the final -- at Croke Park, with the semi-finals scheduled for Portlaoise.
Delaney said the provincial council would "watch with interest" Dublin's move to build a 25,000-30,000 capacity stadium on the outskirts of the city by 2017.
Leinster shelved plans to build a similar sized stadium close to the M50 on the north east side which was a recommendation in their Strategic Plan.
2012 Championship fixtures
Sun, May 20: Westmeath v Louth, Navan; Longford v Laois, Longford.
Sun, May 27: Meath v Wicklow, Carlow.
Sun, June 3: Westmeath/Louth v Dublin/ Longford/Laois v Wexford, Croke Park (both live TV).
Sun, June 10: Meath/ Wicklow v Carlow, Tullamore/Wexford. Sat, June 16: Offaly v Kildare, Portlaoise (live TV).
Sun, July 1: Westmeath/Louth/Dublin v Wexford/Longford/Laois, Meath/ Wicklow/Carlow v Offaly/Kildare, Croke Park (live TV).
Sun, July 22: Croke Park (live TV).
Sat, May 20: Westmeath v Antrim, Mullingar; Laois v Carlow, Carlow.
Sat, June 2: Laois/Carlow v Dublin, Tullamore; Offaly v Wexford, Tullamore (live TV).
Sun, June 3: Galway v Westmeath/Antrim, Mullingar.
Sun, June 17: Galway/Westmeath v Offaly/Wexford, Portlaoise. Sat, June 23: Kilkenny v Dublin/Laois/Carlow, Portlaoise (live TV).
Sun, July 8: Croke Park (live TV).
Sun, May 6: New York v Sligo, Gaelic Park.
Sun, May 20: Roscommon v Galway, Hyde Park.
Sun, June 3: London v Leitrim, Ruislip.
Sat, June 9: Roscommon/Galway v New York/Sligo, Pearse Stadium/Markievicz Park.
Sun, June 24: Mayo v London/Leitrim, McHale Park.
Sun, July 15: Venue TBC.