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Butler hints at calendar switch

NATIONAL Hurling director Paudie Butler has suggested a return to pre-Christmas National League fare after less than 14,000 spectators attended the opening weekend of Division 1 fixtures.

Poor weather conditions for the Tipperary versus Kilkenny clash on Saturday evening and international rugby on Sunday played their part in the low attendance figures, but Butler believes that the competitive hurling season starts too early in the calendar year.

"I was happy enough with the level of play all around but the hurling season starts a bit early," he said. "The fields are heavy and in early February, the hands are cold. Early in the year, you can get very bad days in February but a couple of league matches before Christmas would buy some time.

"Many people have been advocating that and you can see their thinking on it. We're trying to structure everything into the calendar year at the moment so it will take a bit of debate.

Tipperary native Butler also played down the prospect of an increase in the number of floodlit games.

"There won't be that many (floodlit) matches played anyway," he said. "To have one match on a Saturday night is nice from a TV point of view, but there won't be a huge uptake on it."

Irish Independent