CROKE PARK has defended the timing of Saturday’s replayed Munster final on the basis that it would have been counter-productive to play the Cork-Waterford fixture at the same time as high-profile matches elsewhere.
Waterford’s clash with the Leesiders attracted only 22,763 spectators to Semple Stadium on Saturday evening after a request from the Munster Council to play the game on the Sunday afternoon was turned down.
Munster PRO Jim Forbes has already expressed disappointment at the timing of the replay and claimed that one of the GAA’s glamour fixtures should not have been relegated to such an unheralded slot.
“From a promotional perspective, it wouldn’t have made sense to play the game on Sunday,” said GAA Communications Manager Alan Milton yesterday.
“We have to look at it from a national perspective and it would have made very little sense to go up against other GAA events. The Connacht and Ulster (football) finals had already been arranged for that date well in advance and it’s not possible to factor in replays when we’re doing up the master fixtures plan.
“There’s lots of neutral GAA people who would like to see all these games. We have to think of these people and can’t be putting them all up against each other.”
A similar approach has been taken in deciding on the timing of fixtures in both codes next week with five of the six scheduled senior championship matches staggered and screened live on the Saturday and Sunday.
Though round four football qualifiers are meant to be played at neutral venues, Limerick have been handed home advantage against Cork after a request to toss a coin for home venue was accepted by all parties.
Cork recorded a facile seven-point win away to Wexford in their qualifier outing two days ago but Limerick will be a far more difficult assignment on their own turf if Mickey Ned O’Sullivan’s side have been able to move on from their Munster final loss to Kerry.
Dublin will play their third successive qualifier at Croke Park the same evening when they take on Louth as part of a double-header.
Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick has expressed his indifference as to where the game is played. He has also reported a clean bill of health for the 5pm throw-in while Pat Gilroy awaits news on Paul Flynn (ankle) and Eamonn Fennell (hip).
Opening Saturday’s bill at Croke Park will be Monaghan and Kildare while the only senior championship fixture not appearing live on TV screens next weekend will be the meeting of Sligo and Down at 7pm.
As was the case last week, Cork’s fixtures have been split over two days. The hurlers will open the weekend’s second senior Croke Park double-bill with their All-Ireland quarter-final against Antrim on Sunday.
That again leaves the door open for dual player Eoin Cadogan to feature in both the county’s games this week although his duties were restricted to Thurles last weekend as he sat out the footballers’ defeat of Wexford.
Galway and Tipperary will wrap up the weekend’s senior action when they meet in the second All-Ireland hurling quarter-final at 4pm.
Saturday All-Ireland SFC (R4): Louth v Dublin, Croke Park, 5pm, (TBC), TV3; Limerick v Cork, Gaelic Grounds, 7pm, (TBC), RTÉ 2; Monaghan v Kildare, Croke Park, 3pm, (TBC) RTÉ 2; Sligo v Down, Kingspan Breffni Park, 7pm, (TBC).
All-Ireland MHC quarter-final: Antrim v Dublin, Crossmaglen, 12pm, (TBC).
Sunday: All-Ireland SHC quarter-finals: Cork v Antrim, Croke Park, 2pm, (TBC), RTÉ 2; Galway v Tipperary, Croke Park, 4pm, (TBC), RTÉ 2.
All-Ireland MHC quarter-final: Waterford v Galway, Croke Park, 12pm, (TBC).
*ET to be played in all fixtures where necessary.
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