Euros qualification won’t prompt GAA fixture rethink

The GAA are highly unlikely to change the throw-in times of the televised Leinster SFC semi-finals this Sunday in the event the Republic of Ireland qualify for the second round of Euro 2016 that same afternoon.

Martin O’Neill’s team need to beat Italy in Lille this evening to have a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages.

Should they do enough to go through in third place, they could potentially face France in Lyon at 2pm, the same time as Kildare and Westmeath meet in their provincial game in Croke Park.

That game, as well as Dublin’s clash with Meath at GAA HQ which throws in at 4pm, is set to be televised on RTÉ1. At present, neither RTÉ2’s nor TV3 schedule mention live coverage of the France match but that is certain to change.

Ireland’s participation in Sunday’s game would certainly impact on the attendance at the Croke Park double-header.

The GAA have learned to cost clashes between international soccer games and championship matches.

In 2002, a measly crowd of 7,394 turned up in Clones’ St Tiernach’s Park for Donegal and Derry’s Ulster semi-final match.

The vast majority only arrived in the stadium for the second half having watched the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup last-16 game against Spain, which went into extra-time and penalties in South Korea.

Later that same day, Kerry and Cork played out a low-scoring draw in a Munster quarter-final at Fitzgerald Stadium in front of 30,425 supporters — down over 11,000 on the number the year before. The poor weather, though, also contributed to the low attendance.

In February 2012, Kerry vs Armagh and Mayo against Dublin Division 1 evening games clashed with a France v Ireland Six Nations game, abandoned due to fog, but the games attracted strong crowds of 6,000 in Austin Stack Park and 10,000 in MacHale Park.

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