The 2018 All-Ireland senior football final date has been confirmed as September 2 with the hurling decider, as was explained after Special Congress last Saturday week, set to be staged on August 19, writes John Fogarty.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner yesterday, GAA director of games administration and player welfare Feargal McGill said those Sundays had been pencilled in as the ultimate days of each competition next year.
As had been expected, the weekend of August 26 has been left vacant in the event Pope Francis attends the World Meeting of Families’ mass that Sunday.
Dublin is hosting the six-day celebration and Croke Park is in line to stage its conclusion.
The football decider is likely to revert to an August date in 2019 as per the decision taken at Annual Congress earlier this year.
Seven days out from the draw for the 2018 senior football championship, McGill and the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC), of which the four provincial secretaries are members, have met twice since Special Congress to discuss how next year’s master fixtures calendar will look.
The Club Players Association (CPA) have also been consulted.
Working back from those All-Ireland final dates, both football semi-finals could take place on August 11 and 12, with the hurling last-four matches being played over the August Bank Holiday along with the final round of football’s Super 8.
No dates have been proposed for the provincial senior hurling finals although it is now seems unlikely the preliminary quarter-finals will be scheduled for the same weekend as those Leinster and Munster deciders.
There remains the possibility that both could be played on the same day or over the same weekend so as to ensure each winner has the same number of weeks prior to their All-Ireland semi-finals.
Both the Leinster and Munster football finals could also be staged on the same Saturday evening or on one Saturday after another.
As reported last weekend, a March end to the Allianz Hurling Leagues is being looked at. However, to facilitate that the CCCC will almost certain propose to Central Council to either alter the competition or do away with the Division 1 quarter-finals between the top four teams in Division 1A and 1B.
“It’s something we’re considering,” said McGill of the latter option.
There are eight weekends across next February and March. As of now there are eight Division 1 hurling weekends (five round-robin, three knockout) meaning there is no down weekend.
The hurling league, which usually commences a week later than the football, may have to start on February 3 or 4 too.
The tighter scheduling may prompt a format change akin to the one last seen in 2013 when the top three teams in Division 1A and the 1B winners qualified for the semi-finals.
However, it may be judged that the table-toppers in Division 1B and not the winners of a final will progress. The last three Division 1 titles have been won by Division 1B teams — Waterford in ’15, Clare last year and Galway this past season.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.