Oisin Keniry/INPHO The GAA released the 2018 Master Fixtures plan today.
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Saturday night Munster football final among changes on 2018 GAA fixture list
The Leinster and Munster hurling finals will also be played on the same day next year.

THE GAA HAS this afternoon released its 2018 Master Fixtures plan, with radical changes made to next year’s schedule in order to accommodate the new look championship structure.

The Allianz League football and hurling seasons will both get underway on Saturday 27 January, meaning the only inter-county fixtures due to be played in April are the Division 1 and 2 football finals.

They will be played on Easter Sunday, 1 April, with the rest of that month free for club fixtures.

The hurling league final, meanwhile, will be played under the lights on Saturday 24 March but if Tipperary and Kilkenny were to meet in the decider, the game would take place at Nowlan Park on the Sunday, following an arrangement between the two counties.

Attention will then turn to the beginning of the championship schedule with Leitrim facing New York and Sligo hosting London in two Connacht championship games on 6 May.

The provincial hurling championships will get underway a week later, on 12 May, when Galway and Offaly meet in the Leinster championship.

The Munster football final will take place on a Saturday evening, with throw-in scheduled for 7pm on 23 June.

In a statement as part of the Master Fixtures Plan, the GAA said: “The final round of the Munster Hurling Championship was scheduled for the day on which we had initially planned to play the Munster Football Final.

“Rather than move the Munster Hurling games to a Saturday, it was felt that it was a good time to experiment with a Provincial Final on a Saturday night. It again offers a good promotional and marketing opportunity.

Killian Young and Michael Hurley Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

“It will be reviewed next year but this is envisioned as being part of a 3 year experimental rota with Leinster and Ulster, whereby if required one of those provinces would also look at playing a Provincial Football final on a Saturday night in the coming years.”

In another significant change, the 2018 Leinster and Munster hurling championship finals will be played on the same day — Sunday 1 July — in order to avoid a six-day turnaround in the football championship.

“This had never been done before as C.C.C.C and the provinces had always sought to maximise our opportunities to promote hurling in the context of a championship (before the recent changes agreed) that had very few high profile games in the early part of the season,” the statement continued.

“However, given the huge number of high profile hurling games that will be staged in the provinces in 2018, we do not see the same issues arising as might have in previous years had such a proposal been floated.”

It has also been confirmed that the 2018 All-Ireland hurling final will take place on Sunday 19 August while the football decider has been penciled in for Sunday 2 September.

The 2018 fixture list can be viewed in full here.

The 2018 Allianz League fixture list can be viewed in full here.

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