Sunday 10 December 2017

Martin Breheny: GAA spreads more GAA action for Saturday evenings

Some football and hurling provincial championship games could be played on Saturday evenings (stock picture)
Some football and hurling provincial championship games could be played on Saturday evenings (stock picture)
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

More than quarter of next year's football and hurling provincial championship games could be played on Saturday evenings as the move away from Sunday fixture cramming gathers pace.

Eight games - including some high-profile ties - are already fixed for Saturday evenings, and four others could be added as Munster have yet to decide the precise date for their football semi-finals.

All-Ireland football champions Dublin and hurling counterparts Kilkenny are already committed to Saturday action.

Dublin will play in Nowlan Park against Laois or Wicklow in the Leinster football quarter-final on June 4, while Kilkenny will take on either Wexford or Dublin in Wexford Park or Portlaoise in the hurling semi-final a week later.

Connacht are set for a big Saturday event: if, as expected Mayo beat London in the quarter-final, they will play Galway in the semi-final on Saturday, June 18.

Ulster will also stage a semi-final on Saturday evening when Donegal/Fermanagh/Antrim play Down/Monaghan on June 25.

Ulster are continuing with their policy of playing the eight games over eight weekends, a drawn-out process which is coming under national scrutiny amid attempts to create more time for club activity in the summer months.

The provincial action begins on May 1, but it will take a few weeks to crank up interest after the draws delivered some low-key early rounds.

That's not conducive to a big promotional push, including for the return of The Sunday Game, which launched this year with the Donegal v Tyrone clash.

The lower-profile Fermanagh v Antrim will be the first game on the Ulster schedule on May 15, the same day as Offaly host Longford in the Leinster first round.

2016 senior provincial championships

May 1 (Sun): Connacht SF (Preliminary Round): New York v Roscommon, Gaelic Park; Leinster SH round robin: Kerry v Carlow, Tralee; Westmeath v Offaly, Mullingar;

May 7 (Sat): Leinster SH round robin: Kerry v Westmeath, Tralee; Offaly v Carlow, Tullamore;

May 14 (Sat): Leinster SF (1st round); Laois v Wicklow, Portlaoise; Louth v Carlow, Portlaoise;

May 15 (Sun): Ulster SF prelim round: Fermanagh v Antrim, Brewster Park; Leinster SF (1st round): Offaly v Longford, Tullamore;

May 22 (Sun): Munster SH quarter-final: Tipperary v Cork, Semple Stadium; Leinster SH round robin: Carlow v Westmeath, Netwatch Cullen Park; Offaly v Kerry, Tullamore; Connacht SF quarter-final: Leitrim v Roscommon/New York, Carrick-on-Shannon; Ulster SF quarter-final: Derry v Tyrone, Celtic Park.

May 28/29: Munster SF quarter-finals: Waterford v Tipperary, Dungarvan; Limerick v Clare, Gaelic Grounds.

May 29 (Sun): Connacht SF quarter-final: London v Mayo, Ruislip; Leinster SF quarter-final: Kildare v Wexford, Croke Park; Leinster SH quarter-final: Dublin v Wexford, Croke Park; Ulster SF quarter-final: Cavan v Armagh, Kingspan Breffni Park;

June 4 (Sat): Leinster SF (quarter-final): Dublin v Laois/Wicklow, Nowlan Park;

June 5 (Sun): Munster SH semi-final; Clare v Waterford, Semple Stadium; Leinster SH quarter-finals: Galway v round robin winner; Laois v round robin runners-up; Ulster SF quarter-final: Monaghan v Down, Clones.

June 11 (Sat): Leinster SH semi-final: Dublin/Wexford v Kilkenny, Portlaoise or Wexford Park

Jun 11/12: Munster SF semi-finals: Cork v Waterford/Tipperary, Semple Stadium/ Dungarvan; Kerry v Clare/Limerick, Killarney.

June 12 (Sun): Connacht SF semi-final: Roscommon/New York/ Leitrim v Sligo, Hyde Park or Carrick-on-Shannon; Leinster SF quarter-finals: Meath v Louth/Carlow, Parnell Park or Pairc Tailteann; Westmeath v Longford/Offaly, Mullingar; Ulster SF quarter-final: Donegal v Antrim/Fermanagh.

June 18 (Sat): Connacht SF semi-final: Mayo/London v Galway, MacHale Park

June 19 (Sun): Munster SH semi-final: Limerick v Cork/Tipperary, Semple Stadium/ Gaelic Grounds; Leinster SH semi-final: Galway/round robin winner v Laois/ round robin runner-up; Ulster SF semi-final: Derry/Tyrone v Cavan/Armagh.

June 25 (Sat): Ulster SF semi-final: Donegal/Fermanagh/Antrim v Down/Monaghan

June 26 (Sun): Leinster SF semi-finals: Laois/Wicklow/Dublin v Meath/Louth/Carlow; Longford/Offaly/Westmeath v Wexford/Kildare

July 3 (Sun): Leinster SH final, Croke Park; Munster SF final

July 10 (Sun): Munster SH final: Connacht SF final.

July17 (Sun): Leinster SF final, Croke Park; Ulster SF final, Clones

Irish Independent

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