Sunday 25 February 2018

Friday night lights on cards for Leinster championship showdowns

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The Leinster Council has given the green light for senior championship matches to be played on Friday nights.

A full meeting of the provincial body this week cleared the way for the Central Competitions Controls Committee -- the GAA's fixture-making body -- to fix a match on a Friday night if they feel it is feasible.

The proviso is that the match would be a local derby geographically suitable for both sets of players and supporters.

The GAA has traditionally restricted its senior championship fixtures to weekend afternoons and evenings and Bank Holiday Mondays.

Rarely has it moved outside that window, with just the Offaly v Limerick hurling qualifier in 2003 played on a Thursday night in Semple Stadium.

The potential for a Friday night fixture was one of the main discussion points at the most recent Leinster Council meeting, and chairman Martin Skelly said there was "overwhelming" support for it.


"If CCCC want to make a fixture that suits geographically, then we'd be happy to accommodate it. We feel it could be novel," said Skelly.

Other sports have successfully created a Friday night niche, with domestic soccer and European rugby benefiting.

Only last year, plans to play a Dublin v Mayo league match in Croke Park on a Friday night were scuppered despite agreement from both teams. The GAA were concerned over the possibility of players having to take leave from work early and the possibility of compensating them for loss of wages.

Leinster will also be actively encouraging counties in the province to enter into 'home and away' arrangements in future.

"There was a feeling from the meeting that in many cases supporters are only interested in watching their own counties play and that we should move away from double-headers at provincial venues," said Skelly. "If there were home and away arrangements, it could increase crowds and work out favourably for local towns."

Skelly confirmed that home and away arrangements would include Dublin, Kildare and Meath and could mean a return to the road in the championship for Dublin for the first time since 2006, when they travelled to Longford for a game.

It was also confirmed that the O'Byrne Cup would be run off in 2013 on a round-robin basis, while London will be accepted into next year's Leinster hurling championship if they wish to compete on the back of their Christy Ring Cup success.

Irish Independent

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