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Leinster four play second fiddle to Celine Dion

Celine Dion will force four Leinster counties out of Croke Park for their provincial football quarter-finals next June.

Dion is due to play a concert in Croke Park on Friday, May 30, which means the stadium will not be available for GAA action that weekend. That means two football quarter-finals, normally a double-header , being switched to provincial venues on Sunday June 1.

The pairings involved feature Laois v Kildare or Wicklow and Wexford v Meath or Carlow. If it's Laois v Kildare, the game will be played in Tullamore, while Carlow will stage the game if it's Wicklow v Laois. Meath v Wexford would be played in Carlow, while Carlow v Wexford would be played in Nowlan Park.

While Leinster are happy to improvise in circumstances which are outside their control, the unavailability of Croke Park on a June weekend raises the issue of whether concert bookings should be taken during the championship season. Concerts are a rich source of revenue for the GAA -- they earn over €1m for a full house -- but there are many who believe that Croke Park should always be available for the playing of championship games.

At a time when sensitivities are running high between the GPA and the GAA, it won't have gone unnoticed that Croke Park is being used as a revenue generator rather than being available for a Leinster championship action which, if played as a double header, would attract over 50,000.

Meanwhile, there's growing concern among counties over what they perceive to be an over-crowded football fixtures schedule in July-August next year. The All-Ireland qualifiers will be played off over three successive weekends, starting on July 19 and those who survive will head straight into the quarter-finals, which means they'll have been in action on four consecutive weekends.

The tighter schedule is designed to leave more time for club programmes but there's certain to be complaints when some counties find themselves with such a busy schedule.

Waterford hurlers felt that their prospects of winning the All-Ireland title were seriously hampered by having to play three big games in 14 days last summer but it's going to be even more severe on some football counties next near as they will have four games on successive weekends.