The GAA are expected to allow extra substitutes in the forthcoming National League in an attempt to offset the chances of injury and allow managers give more players game-time.
As the finalised fixtures for the competition were Irish Examiner , the released this afternoonhas learned the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) are to temporarily permit more replacements than the current limit of five excluding blood and head injury substitutes.
It follows support for the idea from chairmen, managers and correspondence received by Croke Park from counties such as Kerry. Last weekend, former Galway manager Micheál Donoghue had also called for unlimited substitutes in the league but it would appear the maximum number of personnel switches will increase to a maximum of eight.
Kerry chairman Tim Murphy spoke to GAA president Larry McCarthy about the need for such a measure and the county executive followed it up with a letter to the CCCC.
“Given the fact it’s such a condensed season, given the fact every football team has four weeks to prepare collectively and every hurling team three and we don’t have any challenge games, we just felt the limit of five subs would be very onerous on players in terms of the load that they’d be exposed to,” explained Murphy.
“We felt from an injury prevention point of view and a player welfare point of view, the CCCC might consider increasing the number of subs from five to whatever — we mentioned eight in our submission.
"We further suggested that the additional three or whatever the extra number of subs could only be made during a water break or at half-time so that they wouldn’t impede on the play or timing of the game.”
Murphy expressed satisfaction with the CCCC’s decision to stage their Division 1 South Round 2 game against Dublin in Semple Stadium, which sees the counties meet there 20 years after their All-Ireland quarter-final in Thurles.
Portlaoise’s O’Moore Park had been pencilled in for the game but Kerry had expressed concerns about the distances players would have to drive and avoiding an overnight was considered key.
“We’d be happy with Thurles,” said Murphy. “From our point of view, it’s within commuting distance for a day trip whereas anything further north would possibly have given us a bit of bother with overnights and with Covid we’re obviously trying to avoid that.”
Semple Stadium will also host Cork’s “home” game against Kildare in the opening round of Division 2 South on May 15. Down, who were also found to have contravened the ban, will face Meath in Armagh’s Athletic Grounds in their Division 2 North, Round 2 game on May 23 while Enniskillen’s Brewster Park will stage the Monaghan-Armagh Division 1 North, Round 1 fixture on May 16. As a result of losing home advantage for one game and the venue draw, Cork, Down, Dublin and Monaghan will not play any of their three round games on their own patch next month.
Just 19 of the 110-plus football and hurling round fixtures are evening throw-ins. They include the opening day Division 1, Group A clash between All-Ireland and Division 1 champions Limerick and Tipperary in the LIT Gaelic Grounds on May 8 (5.30pm).
It is believed Clare and Wexford’s Division 1 Group 2 clash in Cusack Park was moved from the evening of Saturday, May 15 to the following afternoon after Wexford agreed to a request by the hosts to defer the fixture.