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Later league start key to increasing crowds

IT was interesting to hear criticism of the GAA for not switching Allianz Hurling League games to avoid a clash with the Ireland versus France rugby international last Sunday.

Yes, the rugby was a factor in some disappointing attendances, but there were other issues too.

Wexford's new-look team was never going to be a big draw against Galway and since Pearse Stadium isn't exactly the world's best-located ground, the temptation was great to remain at home and watch the rugby, followed by deferred viewing of the hurling game on TG4.

The Waterford v Dublin game also had deferred TV coverage and, as for Cork v Offaly in Pairc Ui Chaiomh, it wasn't attractive enough to prompt much reaction on Leeside.

Here's an interesting thing. The GAA are questioned for not switching their games to avoid the clash with rugby, yet the IRFU fixed a full round of All-Ireland League games for Saturday, February 5 (2.30 kick-off), at precisely the same time as the Ireland v Italy international clash. So if the IRFU doesn't change its club schedule for international rugby games, why should the GAA?

If the GAA want to increase the crowds at NHL games, then start them later. Other attraction or not, the second weekend in February is too early.

Irish Independent