As the Allianz Leagues and All-Ireland senior championships are condensed, there is less time to play matches. Here are just 10 double-ups/clashes/overlaps in store during the GAA season ahead:
January 27-20/February 3-4/February 24-25/March 3-4
As if burnout wasn’t a big enough buzzword, it’s going to be on everyone’s lips next year, when you have the likes of five hurling round league games over six weekends. In total, there will be seven double football and hurling weekends across the Allianz Leagues, but in terms of round games there will be four: Round 1 at the end of January, Round 2 the following weekend in February, Round 4 at the end of February and Round 5 across the first weekend in March. Over those four weekends, with difficult-to-predict weather, there will be 128 games. Hurling has no wiggle room after February, so postponements will lead to be problems.
The All-Ireland senior club football semi-final between Moorefield and Corofin/Fulham Irish is on the same day as the Sigerson Cup final. Corofin’s Liam Burke is also on the UCD team aiming to reach their third consecutive Sigerson final and they will fancy themselves if Con O’Callaghan makes himself available.
The opening round of the Leinster SHC — Dublin v Kilkenny in Parnell Park on May 12 and Offaly v Galway in Tullamore the following day — don’t clash with football, but take place during exam time or just before. For example, UCD’s start on May 8 and end on May 19, while NUIG’s begin on May 17.
Cork and Limerick’s Munster SHC Round 3 game takes place on the first Saturday in June in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, as does the Cork footballers’ semi-final against Tipperary or Waterford. A double bill by the Lee is on the cards if Waterford surprise Tipperary, but it is likely that Tipperary will progress and enjoy home advantage, with Cork’s two senior teams divided by geography on the same day.
The final round of the Leinster SHC, featuring what should be the top four finishers battling it out for three spots — Kilkenny v Wexford, Galway v Dublin — will prove a headache for TV companies, as both games must take place at the same time to ensure fairness. The first round of the All-Ireland qualifiers has also been slotted in for the Saturday.
Similar to Leinster, the final two Munster SHC matches, between Clare and Limerick in Ennis and Waterford against Cork, possibly in Walsh Park, should be scheduled for the same throw-in time that Sunday. A simulcast might be suggested. The Connacht senior football final will also be played that afternoon.
The new Saturday night date for the Munster final — it will be Leinster or Ulster in 2019 — is almost sure to clash with some second-round qualifiers scheduled for the same day, though some will likely fall into the next day. The Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cup finals are also down for that Saturday.
They obviously won’t be played at the same time, but it’s the first time in living memory that the Munster and Leinster senior hurling finals will take place on the same afternoon. This was decided in a bid to avoid a six-day turnaround in the football championship. One final has taken the place of the Leinster football decider, which had been in this slot, but has been moved, as the losers would have been forced to play their qualifier the following weekend.
Burnout will be a factor at inter-county minor level, too. Changes to provincial competitions will add to the load of teenagers, plus there’s a potential issue for those playing both codes. On July 28 and 29, the All-Ireland minor football quarter-finals are down for decision, as are the All-Ireland minor hurling semi-finals. Minor managers have been asking dual stars to choose and now the GAA seem to be forcing the issue.
July 28/29, August 11/12
The All-Ireland semi-finals in both codes will take place on the same weekends (hurling in July, football in August), a move which was always on the cards, as the GAA looked to shrink the duration of the championships, but from a promotional aspect it might be self-defeating, as over four weeks of build-up, reporting and post-match analysis will be cut in half.