Sport Gaelic Football

Saturday 18 November 2017

Thumbs up for Friday night qualifiers

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The GAA are open to Friday night qualifiers next summer, if there is common geography and agreement between counties, it has emerged.

Following on from Leinster Council's determination to stage a Friday night championship fixture next summer, Fergal McGill, the GAA's head of games administration, has revealed that the Central Competitions Controls Committee (CCCC) would be open to such a concept for the right fixtures.

It is believed an attempt was made to schedule the Laois versus Carlow first-round qualifier on a Friday night last June, but the proposal had to be dropped when agreement couldn't be reached between the counties.

Munster and Leinster have both expressed strong concern over the scheduling of qualifier matches involving teams from their own provinces on Saturday nights before big provincial games.

"It is having a very big impact on our neutral crowds," claimed Munster Council chairman Sean Walsh. "This summer we had Clare playing a hurling qualifier in Ennis and Cork playing a hurling qualifier in Cork on a Saturday night before the same two counties were involved in a Munster football final in the Gaelic Grounds.

"I have no doubt the fixing of those two games on the night before had a big impact on our attendance in Limerick (9,139)," he added.

Walsh also highlighted the involvement of Clare, Limerick and Cork in a qualifier double-bill in Thurles on the night before the Munster hurling final between Tipp and Waterford in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

Leinster chairman Martin Skelly echoed Walsh's concern about Saturday night qualifiers being played on the eve of big provincial matches and he also harbours the view that Dublin's Spring Series is impacting on Leinster's summer revenue.

"The Spring Series has been a fine initiative over the last two years, but I'd be concerned that it may be diluting the Croke Park experience," he said. "I think this is something that should at least be reviewed after next season."

Central Council will seek to put some shape to the master fixtures plan at their meeting tomorrow, when provincial dates will be co-ordinated.

A date for Donegal's opening match in defence of their Ulster title against Tyrone has yet to be settled, as the CCCC seeks to strike a balance between the provinces to ensure a proper spread of games over each weekend.

Irish Independent

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