10 big changes to the 2018 GAA championships

GAA correspondent John Fogarty looks at the major changes coming our way in 2018...

FOOTBALL

1. Super 8: No surprises here. The GAA prefer the term All-Ireland quarter-finals phase but the Super 8 is going to stick. It will begin on July 14/15 and finish on the August bank-holiday weekend. The All-Ireland semi-finals take place the next weekend. Like hurling’s last-four fixtures, both will be over the same weekend.

2. Saturday night Munster SFC final: The idea of a Leinster final being scheduled for a Saturday had been mooted although the Irish Examiner indicated earlier this month that the Munster final could be moved back a day. It has been fixed for 7pm on June 23. The Leinster or Ulster final will take Munster’s Saturday slot in 2019.

3. Tighter and quicker: The Munster SFC will take just 35 days to be completed. The Munster SHC will take a week longer.

4. Early league start: January starts are nothing new for the league but the 27th is the earliest start for the competition in the calendar year.

5. Early All-Ireland final: September 2 next year but August from 2019.

HURLING

1. Provincial round-robin stages: Well, we knew this was coming. The Leinster SHC starts on May 12 and ends on July 1 — that is also the finishing date for the Munster SHC although it commences eight days later on May 20.

2. Munster and Leinster senior hurling finals: Both will be played on the same Sunday, July 1. It’s long been scheduled that the Munster decider take place the week following the Leinster showdown but both now take place on the same day to address a six-day turn-around issue for the football championship. It means both provincial champions will have four weeks before their All-Ireland semi-finals.

3. Saturday night lights: Providing Kilkenny and Tipperary don’t meet in the Division 1 final (because Tipp owe their neighbours a game in floodlight-less Nowlan Park), the game will take place on March 24.

4. Early league start: The hurling league throws in on January 27, the same day as the start of the football equivalent. The decision was taken to ensure April is free of inter-county hurling for club activity.

5. August All-Ireland final: Down for the 19th of the month in 2018.

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