2018 Master Fixtures plan published
The GAA today published its Master Fixtures plan_English.pdf) for the 2018 season.
The Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues will both begin on Saturday, January 27, with All-Ireland Football champions Dublin playing Kildare, and Cork and Kilkenny clashing in Division 1A of the Allianz Hurling League.
The Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final will take place on Saturday evening, March 24th, while the Division 1 and Division 2 Allianz Football Finals will take place on Easter Sunday, April 1st.
Thereafter the month of April will be ring-fenced for club activity.
The Provincial Football Championships will begin on May 6th with two matches in the Connacht Championship as Leitrim play New York and Sligo play London.
The Provincial Hurling Championships will begin on May 12th when Galway and Offaly clash in the Leinster Championship.
The 2018 Munster Football Final will take place on Saturday night, June 23rd, while the Leinster and Munster Hurling Finals will be played on the same day - Sunday July 1st.
Why are both Hurling and Football starting on January 28th?
Our guiding principle in developing the 2018 Master Fixtures plan was to ensure that as much of April as possible could be kept free for clubs. To that end, there are more “double” weekends in the league than before (4 in total) and the leagues are starting in the last weekend in January (normally, the football league would start on the first week in February; the hurling on the 2nd week).
Why is Hurling League final scheduled for a Saturday?
Given the need to complete the leagues by the start of April (and to preserve that Month for clubs), the last round of the football league and the Hurling league final required to be scheduled on the same weekend. C.C.C.C felt that it would be wrong to schedule both on the same day (not to mention the possibilities of a Cork or a Dublin or a Galway being in the Hurling final and involved in a big football game on the same day) – to that end, it was obvious that one of either the final round of the football league or the Hurling Final needed to be on the Saturday.
Given the availability of suitable venues with floodlights in the Southern half of the Country, it was felt that it was the right time to trial the playing of the Hurling League final on a Saturday evening. We feel there is a terrific marketing opportunity there for the playing of a national senior final under floodlights.
It should be noted that if Tipperary and Kilkenny were to meet in the Allianz Hurling League final, that game would take place in Nowlan Park (due to an arrangement between the two Counties). In that scenario, the Hurling League final would take place on the Sunday.
Why is the Munster Football Final on a Saturday night?
The final round of the Munster Hurling Championship was scheduled for the day on which we had initially planned to play the Munster Football Final. Rather than move the Munster Hurling games to a Saturday, it was felt that it was a good time to experiment with a Provincial Final on a Saturday night. It again offers a good promotional and marketing opportunity. It will be reviewed next year but this is envisioned as being part of a 3 year experimental rota with Leinster and Ulster, whereby if required one of those provinces would also look at playing a Provincial Football final on a Saturday night in the coming years.
Why are the Leinster and Munster Hurling Finals on the same day?
In order to avoid a “6 day turnaround” in the football championship, the necessity of playing the Munster and Leinster Hurling finals on the same day had to be considered. This had never been done before as C.C.C.C and the provinces had always sought to maximise our opportunities to promote hurling in the context of a championship (before the recent changes agreed) that had very few high profile games in the early part of the season. However, given the huge number of high profile hurling games that will be staged in the provinces in 2018, we do not see the same issues arising as might have in previous years had such a proposal been floated.