Friday night game but no lights
GAA to make history with Carlow-Laois qualifier clash
IT is already being billed as 'Friday Night – No Lights' but the GAA has finally introduced Friday night football to the championship.
Carlow and Laois will make history on Friday week as their first-round clash in the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers has been fixed for Dr Cullen Park at 7.45.
Eyebrows have been raised at its timing in some quarters, not least because there are no floodlights in Carlow's HQ.
The GAA was unable to get the same two counties to agree to a Friday night qualifier last June, but it is understood the counties had little input into yesterday's decision by the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) and that one of the arguments made for it was to avoid a clash with Carlow's hurlers the next day.
Laois footballer MJ Tierney immediately used social media to express his disquiet, saying "that's absolutely ridiculous, no regard for either set of players," adding: "What about lads that work in Dublin?"
But some GAA officials have been eager to try out a Friday night championship game for some time and viewed this opportunity, and the proximity of the sides, as the ideal test case.
Leinster chairman Martin Skelly has urged people to get behind the unprecedented tie.
"It may not suit everybody, but no day does that any more," Skelly said. "A lot of people are working six and seven days a week at the moment and I believe Friday night games could potentially help players, supporters and clubs.
"With so many people working on Saturdays, Sunday is now almost the only 'family day' for people, so Sunday matches don't suit some people anymore.
"Getting a match over on a Friday night will free the players up for the weekend and could also free players and supporters to go to club games on Sundays," Skelly argued.
Offaly's game against Tyrone, as well as first-round matches involving Antrim and Westmeath's footballers, have been provisionally set for Saturday week pending the results of the first round of hurling qualifiers this weekend.
All-Ireland SFC Qualifers – Rd 1
Friday June 28
Carlow v Laois, Dr Cullen Park, 7.45.
Saturday June 29
Longford v Limerick, Pearse Park, 7.0. Galway v Tipperary, Salthill, 7.0.
* Offaly v Tyrone, Tullamore
*Louth v Antrim, Drogheda
*Westmeath v Fermanagh, Mullingar
(* = games to be confirmed ).
Sunday June 30
Armagh v Wicklow, Athletic Grounds, 3.0 Derry v Sligo, Owenbeg, 5.0