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GAA explains its decision to push back next year's All-Ireland finals
And it’s got nothing to do with the Notre Dame v. Navy American Football match next September…

THE GAA HAS denied that it is trampling all over tradition by moving next year’s All-Ireland hurling and football finals back by a week.

The Association confirmed today that next year’s hurling showpiece will take place on the second Sunday, 9 September, rather than in its usual slot on the first weekend of the month.

And in order to preserve the current two-week break between finals, the football decider has been pushed back to the fourth Sunday, 23 September.

The change sparked speculation that the GAA was bending its own calendar in order to avoid a clash with the American football match between Notre Dame and Navy which takes place in the Aviva Stadium on 1 September 2012.

Almost 40,000 fans were in Croke Park the last time the two college football giants met on these shores in 1996.

With reports of significant interest and advance ticket sales again this time around, it was thought that the GAA might be anxious to avoid a potential attendance-sapping clash.

However, a statement from the GAA this evening explained that the date change was solely due to the fact that there will be five Sundays in September 2012, as opposed to the usual four.

“The Association’s Official Guide states that the football final will be played on the penultimate Sunday of September and the hurling final two weeks earlier,” it read.

Next year’s finals will be played on September 9 and 23 respectively. No other factors other than rule were considered in the scheduling of these fixtures.

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The change will also apply in September 2013 which has five Sundays as well.

Up until the introduction of the back-door system in 1997, the All-Ireland hurling final was traditionally held on the first Sunday of September with few exceptions.

However, the competition’s revamped quarter-final phase saw that year’s final pushed back to the second Sunday of September, a trend which continued until 2006 when it was restored to its original slot in order to avoid a clash with the Ryder Cup in Kildare’s K Club.

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