by Sean Moriarty
The London County Board is considering a major overhaul to its fixtures list for the 2015 season in an effort to entice more fans to Ruislip for local hurling and football games.
The board came in for much criticism this year when major local games like the Senior Hurling Semi final took place on the same day as the All Ireland Hurling semi-final which was broadcast live on television from Croke Park.
Local fans elected not to travel to the county grounds and instead watched the Dublin-based games either at home or in pubs and clubs in their local areas.
Players and teams were also angry with the clash of events, particularly, but not exclusively, the Brothers Pearse Hurling club, which draws its team members largely from Limerick and Kilkenny, the two teams that played in an All Ireland semi-final the same day they faced Sean Treacys in a county semi-final.
With the now delayed redevelopment at Ruislip set to be completed by May next year GAA officials in London are keen to attract as many fans to the new ground as possible.
Next season, subject to ratification by the Central Competitions Control Committee and the board local hurling and football games will not take place at the same time as major hurling and football games in Ireland and both codes will be alternated to avoid clashes.
Gaps will be included in Ruislip’s timetable to allow fans there to watch other big games on television too.
A source close to the proposal revealed: “[ It is proposed to have] staggered times for games during August on Sunday’s for example 11am, 12.30pm and 2pm then a break until 5.30pm to avoid clashing with live TV coverage of the All Ireland Semi Finals in Hurling and Football . [It is planned to] avoid playing hurling games simultaneously for example when the Munster Hurling Final is been played or Football when Ulster Football Final is been played in July.”
The Senior Hurling and Football championship will revert to a late summer and autumn calendar slot with the county final due to be played in mid-October as was the case in recent years except 2014 when the entire season was ran-off eight weeks early to facilitate construction work that was due to get underway in mid September.
It is also proposed that more and more major local games will be played on late Saturday afternoons and that Friday night county championship games could also help alleviate clashes, prevent walkovers, relieve fixture congestion and allow players to be free for the remainder of the weekend.
The Irish World understands that these proposals are up for discussion at next the October county board meeting and that they would have to be approved Central Competitions Control Committee.