Sunday 22 April 2018

Leinster chief Skelly intent on staging Friday night SFC games

Martin Skelly
Martin Skelly
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

THE LEINSTER Council remain intent on introducing Friday night football to their senior championship – and it could yet happen for a game involving two of the province's teams in this summer's All-Ireland qualifiers.

Leinster seriously contemplated staging this year's Kildare-Offaly SFC quarter-final on a Friday night (May 30) but eventually, for economic reasons, made it part of a double-header (with Dublin v Westmeath/Carlow) in Croke Park the next day.

But Leinster chairman Martin Skelly said they are still "determined to press ahead with the idea of a Friday night championship game," and did not rule out that it could yet occur for a 2013 All-Ireland qualifier.

"A lot of players like the idea because it gives them a free weekend. It would also create more room for club fixtures and benefit dual players," Skelly said.

"We didn't find a suitable date for one next summer because it is very much about getting the appropriate pairing and venue, but it remains very much on our agenda."


Leinster held midweek O'Byrne Cup games this season, and also play their U-21 FC during the week, and Skelly told a Leinster Convention last night that these innovations have been very popular and will continue.

But he stressed that the lack of floodlit facilities in the province remains a stumbling block, and was particularly critical that so many of Leinster's county grounds are not equipped to host championship matches due to health and safety regulations.

"Only three of our 12 county grounds are adequately equipped for hosting floodlit inter-county games, and only 50pc can host championship matches, which is simply not good enough," he said.

Skelly praised the introduction of a staggered return to collective training for senior inter-county teams this season and said a more realistic approach needs to be applied at underage level.

County U-21 teams can now return to training on January 1, and minor teams on February 1, but Skelly said "it is questionable whether counties are adhering to that."

Irish Independent

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