The gap between the end of the Allianz Football League and start of the senior provincial championships is set to double next year.
This year, there was a three-week break between the four divisional finals on April 23/24 and the first championship clashes, the Leinster preliminary round games on May 14/15. However, the scrapping of the Division 1 semi-finals means the four divisional finals will take place earlier in 2017, on April 8/9, with Leinster again expected to be first out of the blocks on May 21, a margin which represents six weeks. Sligo’s trip to New York at the start of May will begin the Connacht SFC.
It is the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee’s hope that the extra space between the competitions will allow counties to organise club championship fixtures.
Although Leinster released most of their dates and venues for senior championships last week (hurling final on July 2, football on July 16), Connacht, Munster, and Ulster are yet to confirm their schedules, apart from final dates. The Munster football and hurling deciders are down for July 2 and 9 respectively. The Connacht SFC final is set for July 9 with the Ulster final fixed for July 16.
Meanwhile St Brigid’s veteran Karol Mannion admits the 2011 decision by the Connacht Council to preclude clubs from playing championship games at home has been frustrating.
The Roscommon champions are preparing to travel to Carrick-on-Shannon to face Corofin in this Sunday’s AIB provincial final, the second time they have done so this month having played their “home” semi-final against Leitrim’s Aughawillan there. St Brigid’s had no choice as they weren’t allowed to stage the game in Kiltoom, and Dr Hyde Park is currently undergoing a pitch improvement.
“At the time, yeah it felt like it was annoying because it felt like it was a rule just for us,” says Mannion. “Since then, we’ve just got on with it.”
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