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Sunday 22 September 2019

Marty Clarke believes GAA should not back down from firm stance over clash with Champions League final

Former Down ace adamant association should stick to firm stance on Saturday night

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during training ahead of the Champions League final. Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during training ahead of the Champions League final. Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

Michael Verney and Colm Keys

The GAA are right to have a firm stance and avoid changing Saturday night's three championship fixtures despite a clash with the Champions League final, according to former Down star Marty Clarke.

Clarke acknowledges that Liverpool's involvement in the Kiev decider against Real Madrid (7.45) will significantly impact attendances but the former All-Star attacker has commended the GAA's decision to stand firm.

"Personally, I think the GAA should stick to their guns. We're the GAA. You can't predict who is going to make a European Cup final in soccer. They're right to stick to their guns, don't change the time," Clarke said.

"Attendances are going to suffer, interest is going to suffer, no doubt. I think the GAA are doing the right thing to keep the times. You just have to accept that it's unlucky that it's a big English club that's there."

The Leinster SHC round-robin meeting of Offaly and Wexford, the Munster SFC semi-final between Tipperary and Cork and Ulster SFC quarter-final battle pitting Clarke's native Down against Antrim - all throwing in at 7.0 - are the three games likely to be significantly hit by the decision.

Elsewhere, Johnny Buckley has had to step away from the Kerry football squad due to increased work commitments.

Former Down ace Marty Clarke. Photo: Sportsfile
Former Down ace Marty Clarke. Photo: Sportsfile

The Dr Crokes forward is not expected to be involved in the forthcoming championship as he devotes more time to the family bus company which is based in Killarney. Buckley was last year's Kerry captain, courtesy of Crokes' All-Ireland club success in 2017.

He was half-forward on the team that defeated Donegal in the 2014 All-Ireland final and featured again in the final against Dublin a year later.

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Buckley has had ongoing knee problems that kept him out of action for all of the 2016 Championship. It is not clear if Buckley, who made his Kerry championship debut in 2012 as a substitute against Cork, will return in 2019.

Kerry - who face Clare in their championship opener on the weekend after next - are likely to be without defender Shane Enright who is nursing an ankle injury.

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