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GAA's Friday night experiment 'unlikely to be repeated'

Laois and Carlow made history last summer but the GAA is reluctant to make Friday night fixtures a regular occurrence.

Laois: beat Carlow in last summer's historic Friday night Championship clash.
Laois: beat Carlow in last summer's historic Friday night Championship clash.
Image: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

PLAYER WELFARE CONCERNS and the question of financial compensation mean the GAA is unlikely to repeat its “experiment” with Friday night Championship games.

Over 4,500 turned out last summer to see Laois beat Carlow in a historic football qualifier, the first time a senior inter-county game was played on a Friday night.

But there were concerns from the Gaelic Players’ Association and from players who were unhappy with a game being scheduled for a workday.

Writing in his annual report, Director-General Paraic Duffy said there can be no question of compensating players for loss of earnings on a matchday.

And he accepted that players cannot be expected to prepare fully for a game if they are also expected to do a full day’s work.

“CCCC deserves credit for taking the initiative to make the fixture: as a local derby involving short-distance travel, it was an ideal game to test support for Friday evening matches,” Duffy wrote.

“The attendance — double that when the same counties met a year earlier — suggests that occasional Friday evening games would appeal to supporters.

However, it is an experiment that is unlikely to be repeated.

“Players have a valid point when they say that a full working day does not facilitate the mental and physical preparation necessary for a championship game, a consideration that is a sufficiently strong argument on its own to rule out a repeat of the experiment.

“Nor can there be any question of meeting requests to compensate players financially for loss of earnings on the day of a championship game: such compensation would be in breach of our amateur-status rules. If such compensation is seen as a pre-requisite for playing Friday evening matches, then the Laois v Carlow game was most definitely a ‘once-off’ experiment.

“It may be that some provision could be made for the occasional Friday evening league game between neighbouring counties but, given the competitive nature of that competition, too, the restricted player-preparation time of such a fixture is equally a barrier in league fixtures.”

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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