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Friday night championship games on the cards if GAA opts for radical reform

Games between neighbouring counties could provide the GAA with a marketing opportunity.

Croke Park under lights.
Croke Park under lights.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

WITH THE NUMBER of championship games increasing from 66 to 135 if the GPA’s preference for radical reform to the All-Ireland SFC is voted in, then holding games on Friday nights is a live possibility for the GAA. 

Under Proposal B, which the GPA officially endorsed yesterday, each county would be guaranteed a minimum of seven championship games during the spring/summer months. 

Such a substantial increase in championship games would create a greater demand for coverage, but the GPA have floated the possibly of Friday night games taking place.

Screenshot 2021-10-08 at 09.19.26

It was considered in the past, with Clare playing Laois in a 2013 qualifier on a Friday night, but concerns over how it impacts players’ work and study meant it was shelved. 

However, Tyrone goalkeeper and GPA national executive committee member Niall Morgan believes ties between neighbouring counties could come into the equation and provide the GAA with a marketing opportunity. 

“I’d say the biggest part would be that it’s a (derby) game, like Tyrone-Armagh, or Tyrone-Derry from an Ulster point of view. In the south there’d be different permutations.

“I think it will be a huge talking point because not much actually goes on, on a Friday night in terms of sport. It could really open up an audience.

“Like the Premiership in England you could come up with a theme of Friday night football. Players would have to be surveyed because it would have to suit them and their work schedules but if it was put out early enough and players knew this was going to happen.

“Tyrone went to all-Friday night league games this year. Some players liked it and some didn’t so it would have to be carefully surveyed. For example if there was no one involved in Division 1 close to Tyrone that would mean we’re not going to be involved and so it’s not up to us to talk about it.”

GPA co-chair Maria Kinsella added: “In relation to Friday night games, there are pros and cons to it. I think at that stage we’d be consulting our members to get the appetite for it.

“I think we’ve also seen the amount of coverage the ladies’ game has received on TG4 as a result of having no competition. The LGFA came out quite strategically and said we’re only going to make it happen if there are two neighbouring counties. I think something like that is logistically just common sense for a Friday night game.

“It has done a huge amount for the development of the ladies game this year and I’m expecting those Friday night games to continue but again, we have to get back to our members on it.”

gpa-media-conference-of-football-championship-structure Mickey Quinn speaking at a GPA media conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

Meanwhile, GPA chief executive Tom Parsons believes the GAA should make their stance on their preferred proposal known prior to Special Congress on 23 October. 

Two proposals will be debated: redrawing the provincials into four conferences of eight (Proposal A) or the championship league system (B). 

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With a 60% majority required for a motion to be passed, Parsons feels Croke Park should announce their presence ahead of the vote. 

“I would like to see it,” he said. “We have a number of weeks to Special Congress and again it’s an educational journey for all our GAA administration and leadership. There is still time to educate and deep dive and listen to debates and listen to players, host focus groups, and go around the country and listen, to formulate your opinion.

“I think it is really important, whatever opinion that is I think people need to express their opinions. Again, there might be one or two players who have an alternative opinion to us, but that’s okay.

“But this is a really important decision and it is warranted to have these conversations to answer these questions, to have this debate, to explore, to issue videos that really explain the proposals. It warrants this conversation. I hope that happens. I believe it will happen, we still have a number of weeks to Special Congress.”

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey chat all things Connacht, Munster, Leinster and Ulster — and welcome back the AIL — on The42 Rugby Weekly


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Kevin O'Brien

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