Horan defends Cork’s quarter-final Croke Park split

GAA president John Horan insists that a Cork double-bill in Croke Park was not feasible this weekend.

Cork fans wishing to watch their senior footballers and hurlers’ All-Ireland quarter-final ties must pay twice into GAA HQ on Saturday and Sunday.

Horan explained that a combination of a number of factors, such as Dublin playing on Saturday evening and pairing the All-Ireland quarter-finals together, prevented the Cork sides appearing on the same bill.

However, he doesn’t believe the split over the two days will upset too many Cork followers.

“It would have been more desirable if you could put them together.

But when you talk about the Cork supporter, and I think we all know the Cork football supporter will be a different cohort to the Cork hurling supporter. For the guy that bridges both then these things are unfortunate.

“It is positive from a Cork point of view that they are doing so well but you just can’t fit everything in.

“If you were trying to put three fixtures on a Sunday, where would you put a Dublin-Cork game?

“Are you going to put it on at 12 o’clock to get them all in? That’s the unfortunate thing.

“There will always be an appetite to have a game on a Saturday night and a Dublin game is generally on a Saturday night. And for the hurling supporter, the double-header of the hurling on a Sunday does fit in well together. To split it would have been a lot more difficult.”

Horan also expressed sympathy for Laois and Westmeath, who had just one week from their Joe McDonagh Cup final to their All-Ireland preliminary quarter-finals. Victory for Laois over Dublin last weekend qualifies them for a meeting with Tipperary on Sunday which will be their third game in 14 days.

Horan said: “The whole difficulty in that is the timing factor. The whole concept behind the Joe McDonagh Cup was to get it a high profile and get the final played before the Leinster final. So if you are going to run it off that bit earlier, how far out are you stretching out the season?

“You have to have a certain bit of sympathy for Laois as this is the third week in a row they will be playing. I know there is a certain momentum to that but there is also the issue of fatigue, and you could see that in the game last Sunday with players suffering from cramp towards the end.

“It is just so difficult with the complexity of people going from Joe McDonagh to jumping back into the Liam MacCarthy competition.

How do you run one competition off and move a team onto the other? It is not easy, no more than the six-day turnaround was always very difficult for the provincial teams in the past. We are conscious of them.

All six quarter-final matches this weekend are being televised live between RTÉ and Sky Sports. On Sunday, the 2pm throw-in games of Kilkenny-Cork and Donegal-Meath will be shown on RTÉ2 and Sky Sports, respectively, with the Kerry-Mayo and Tipperary-Laois matches being broadcast on RTÉ1 and RTÉ2 respectively.

The GAA have previously steered clear of showing two games at the same time but they are now providing their media partners with more wiggle room. “We are trying to bring flexibility into the contracts to give the general public a better opportunity to see the games,” said Horan.

“You saw that in the league in terms of RTÉ taking four of the games from Eir and they did come looking for more, but we thought four was sufficient.

“These are key to getting games out to the public, even with some of the tiered competitions, we are putting up on our own GAA Now service.

“If you go back to those Sundays when National League games are being finished and you are flicking from one game to another to see who is promoted and relegated, it does create excitement.

“Unfortunately, we are in such a narrow time-frame in playing so many games, there are always going to be clashes. In fairness to the supporters, we can’t spread it out over the whole day from 1 until 8 at night, so we are trying to do the best and trying to keep it all tight at the same time.”

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