Thursday 22 March 2018

Duffy says GAA should consider Friday games


GAA Director-General Paraic Duffy says the association should consider Friday night games between neighbouring counties in the future.

Duffy's comments come just weeks after the Central Controls Competitions Committee (CCCC) prevented Dublin and Mayo from playing a floodlit Friday night league fixture to kick-start the city's St Patrick's Day festivities.

The CCCC defended the decision on last weekend's game by citing various issues surrounding their amateur ethos, including setting a precedent over compensation for players' lost wages.

But Duffy admits he has sympathy for the Dublin County Board that the floodlit encounter didn't go ahead, maintaining that the special circumstances around the request (St Patrick's holiday) could have facilitated it. He feels there is scope for Friday night fixtures to be played in the near future. "I think Dublin-Mayo needed to be looked at as a standalone fixture," he said. "I understand the CCCC's concerns that if you accept the principle that it's okay to fix inter-county games on a Friday night, it inevitably raises the whole issue of playing games during the week.

"In this particular case, a lot of the arguments could have been looked at differently because of St Patrick's Day, people taking the Friday off, and where Dublin were coming from (with their Spring Series promotional venture)," he added.

"Because of the Friday that was in it, it could have been overcome. But take Mayo and Dublin in a normal week where it effectively means guys taking a day off work -- I understand the concern that that would drive us to a road where players could be compensated."

When asked if Friday night games were an option in the near future, Duffy said they were.

"Where teams are geographically together, I think there should be no problem. If Dublin are playing Meath, yes. If Dublin are playing Louth, or Louth playing Meath or Monaghan playing Cavan -- absolutely. There is no doubt about that. I don't think CCCC were ruling that out," he said.

"But you have to take on board the distances involved. You couldn't ask Donegal to play Dublin on a Friday night in Croke Park because players would have to take a day off work. The GAA should look at Friday nights for games between neighbouring counties. I think we can work with the GPA on issues such as this and determining policy. I think the GPA would accept too that we can't go down the road of paying players because they are playing in a match on a Friday. But providing there are no issues around that, I think we're going to have to look at it."

The Dublin board, who have been leading the way in this year's league both on and off the pitch, estimated they would have attracted an extra 10,000 to that floodlit fixture.

"I understand the reaction that the decision could endanger the Spring Series but I think when Dublin sit back and look at it, they will realise that the venture has worked really, really well. Look, it has been a learning process for everybody. I would make this clear: I would hope that the Spring Series will continue next year and every year.

"That's the way Dublin should go. In terms of promoting the GAA in the capital, it has been a huge success. I think we should look at ways of making that possible next year, where Dublin can play double bills in football and hurling.

"We've all learned lessons from it. This is the first year of it. For Dublin to go back now to playing their matches in Parnell Park would be really disappointing. Mistakes were made. But we'll learn from it."

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