Leinster still expect over 40,000 for Croke Park double-header despite Euro 2016 clash
Leinster Council chairman John Horan has defended the decision to put back the starting times of the their provincial football semi-finals on Sunday by more than two hours to accommodate supporters wishing to see the Ireland-France Euro 2016 clash in Lyon.
Horan said they took the decision to facilitate the 35,000 supporters who had already bought tickets for the games but may wish to see Ireland-France (which kicks off 2.0) more than anything else.
The GAA routinely put league games up against big Six Nations rugby matches but Horan cited different circumstances here.
"A Six Nations is a routine tournament, this is more an international tournament," he explained.
"This was done to facilitate the 35,000 people who have actually bought tickets to go to Croke Park. We didn't want them to feel disgruntled. This doesn't impact on anyone else. Anyone else can change channels and watch what they want."
The second half of the Ireland-France game will be shown on the big screens in Croke Park ahead of the 4.15 throw-in for Westmeath and Kildare.
Dublin and Meath has been timed for a 6.35 start to facilitate RTE 1 TV schedules that incorporate the airing of the Angelus and the regular news slot.
Horan said the provincial body moved quickly to avoid "a vacuum and debate" and felt the decision was been received very well.
"So far the feedback has been positive," he said.
"It is a national team. I think GAA people, by their nature, have a broad interest in all sports. You'll find a lot of soccer people won't want to know a lot about GAA or rugby but GAA people love to know about every sport going," he claimed.
Horan feels that those who have bought tickets already will still travel and that they are hopeful of a crowd upwards of 40,000 despite the soccer match going off earlier.