Sunday 21 January 2018

Croke Park defends controversial scheduling of hurling finals

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

THE GAA has defended its controversial decision to play the NHL finals on a Sunday evening rather than go head-to-head with the Biarritz versus Munster Heineken Cup semi-final earlier in the day or defer their own games until the following day.

Galway have asked Croke Park to reconsider fixing the Divisions 1 and 2 finals for Sunday evening, May 2, contending that it's an awkward time for supporters.

Galway suggested that if the fixture-makers were not prepared to play the games at the same time as the rugby match, then they should be moved to the Bank Holiday Monday.

However, Croke Park insists that they want to keep Monday free for club fixtures.

"The hurling league finals have been fixed for Sunday, May 2, for several months. Counties were free to make club fixtures on the basis that Bank Holiday Monday was a free day so it wouldn't be fair to come along now and re-fix the league finals for Monday," said GAA Communications Manager, Alan Milton.


Asked why the GAA didn't go head-to-head with the Munster-Biarritz game on Sunday afternoon, he said the Central Competitions Control Committee felt that this was not in the best interests of the league finals.

However, Galway remain deeply unhappy with the scheduling and decided at their hurling board meeting on Tuesday night to press Croke Park for a rethink.

"Clubs are very unhappy with the timing. A 7.0 start suits nobody and isn't good for hurling. We're all doing our best to promote the game and this certainly doesn't help. Are we to keep changing the times of our games to allow people watch other sports on TV? Everything seems to be about the armchair followers," said Galway hurling board secretary, John Fahey.

Despite Galway's protests, the league finals will go ahead as planned on Sunday fortnight, with Clare meeting Wexford, Laois or Carlow in the Division 2 final at 5.0 while Cork play Galway in the Division 1 final at 7.0.

The Dublin/Roscommon v Donegal/Tipperary U-21 football final will be played on Saturday, May 1, as originally scheduled.

Meanwhile, Galway's Congress delegation will vote against a proposal from Tipperary and Armagh to award two points for a pointed sideline cut.

Joe Canning and Ger Farragher have probably the highest strike rate in the country from sideline cuts but Galway are taking the broader view that the change is not in hurling's best interests.

The GAA experimented with a two-point sideline in the 2005 NHL but it was dropped from the proposals which went to Congress.

Irish Independent

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