It’s worth a shot asking for Saturday League final

A piece by John Fogarty in the Irish Examiner today (here) confirms that the Mayo Senior footballers have been in contact with the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) to request that the Division One final be shifted from Sunday 2nd April to Saturday 1st.

The players’ request apparently articulated concerns about the quick turnaround between the League final and the following weekend’s Championship opener for the county, which sees them in action in a Connacht SFC quarter-final against Roscommon on Sunday 9th April.

Although not mentioned specifically in the piece, there’s a fairly obvious player welfare argument to be made here. This is a topic about which the GAA has been at pains to demonstrate its concern in recent years, though I think it’s fair to say that there’s been a rather large gap between its emoting on the topic and the tangible actions it has taken.

There’s an inherent logic to the players’ request. Clearly, there’s no way we should have been put in the position of having to play two games of such magnitude inside seven days, an outcome that puts us at a significant disadvantage on two fronts: against our League final opponents (most likely Galway or Kerry) and also against Roscommon.

Seen in this light, the players’ desire to play the League final a day earlier makes perfect sense. With only a week between these two important matches, every day counts. If the players’ first day of recovery after the Division One decider is Sunday rather than when they’re back at work or college on the Monday, then that’s got to be preferable.

TV slots will, of course, play a part in deciding who plays when. Even then, however, there’s nothing written on tablets of stone ordering that the Division One and Two finals should be played on the same day. They aren’t always and this shouldn’t be the determining factor.

It’s hard to know if this request from the players will get anywhere. My sense is that the Mayo set-up view a possible Saturday final as a nice-to-have rather than a must-have. In addition, I don’t believe there’s any great desire on our part to let this develop into the kind of match scheduling circus we’ve seen frequently enough – more than once involving us – in the past.

So, let’s see how it goes. There’s certainly no harm in our making this request – the Lord loves a trier, and all that – and, as noted above, it’s an ask that contains more than a little merit. Whether or not this will cut any ice with the CCCC remains to be seen and it could be as late as Sunday night or Monday morning before the fixtures are finalised and we know for sure when we’ll be playing this year’s Division One final.

55 thoughts on “It’s worth a shot asking for Saturday League final

  1. I think the fact that Dublin are likely to be in the division 2 final v Derry increases the chances of the division 1 final getting played on Saturday.
    The Dubs would have enough support to justify putting the division 2 final as the main event on Sunday.

  2. I hope we asked for it be played at MacHale Park too, going in with a Saturday at MacHale park might make a Saturday Croke Park seem reasonable.

    Southmayo I see your logic but what I think the GAA will see is the chance to have Croke Park with 50-60k on Sunday. Who knows, they might surprise us and come up with a Saturday fixture.

  3. @MayoMayo1, Well, A McHale Park home venue for a league final would be a nice reward for finishing the regulation league in first place. ..It’s hard to see any of the following agreeing with it, Kerry, Galway, Roscommon Tyrone, or the suit’s in “Carbon Neutral Croke Park” although they would no doubt absolutely agree with playing Dublin in Croke Park no bother … However credit Kevin McStay and Co for asking for it in the first place!

  4. Like the Dubs under Jim Gavin, particularly in 2016, hopefully we will see some ex Mayo players speaking to the media this year for interviews and opinion pieces to vouch for things in the best interests of Mayo GAA when required.

  5. Interesting it’s the players request and so far not from the county board or from McStay and his management.

    With league finals was retained the league really should have started early Jan this year and pre-season comps got rid of as HQ asked to do.

  6. Aren’t Dublin games generally on Saturday evening as that’s what attracts more of them. They can do their Saturday thing and only 30mins from game. Less mayo fans will go on Saturday as its not business end of championship, people have work, kids have activities. Derry don’t have big fan base, galway or kerry won’t bring many either on Saturday so If gaa feel mayo on Saturday will hit the attendance further, money counts and players request won’t matter.

  7. Mayomagic I’d imagine it’s kite flying and no formal request will be submitted.
    When we played challenge games on our weekends off and didn’t complain at outset of year when fixtures released we not in a strong position to quibble.

    Bulk of lads will get a break this week I’d imagine, likely all fully fit non regular starters will start this one, with a few older heads or starters coming back from injury supplementing them likes of Coen, Aido, Robbie, Cillian etc.

    It’s mad to think with just 1 regular league round and final left we can lose our next 5 competitive games and still be in contention for Sam.

  8. Gizmobobs – The fixtures have not been officially set, we have requested after qualifying for the league final that our game is scheduled for the Saturday. As Willie Joe pointed out it is more a nice-to-have rather than a must-have. There is no harm in asking and i dont see there being any quibbling from Mayo if it is scheduled for the Sunday,

  9. I might be wrong but I think this week may be used by the S+C lads to do some serious training and ease off next week in preparation for final …

  10. JKEL88 no harm at all, as may get them thinking, but I was referring to MayoMagic and why I felt came from players and not management or CB.
    There’s no basis for us having to be Saturday, McStay and CB know this, hence it’s coming from players IMO.

    It could well be fixed for Saturday but I’d imagine it will be Sunday at 4.

  11. It’s a disgrace that there wasn’t a blanket 2-week break after the league finished…a bit of common sense lacking there.

    Also, team who tops the division should have home advantage for final

  12. It’s an absolute no brainer,particularly if the Dubs are in the division two final . But of course you have people who sent us to Limerick in 2014 to accommodate American football! I doubt that they have changed,regrettably.

  13. Reading the article by John Fogarty it appears there won’t be any change in fixtures because of tradition and contractual arrangements with TG4.It also appears the CCCC don’t have much clout as their proposal to abolish the League Finals was overruled by the Central Council and the GPA. Not playing the League Final would be the most obvious solution but that ain’t going to happen and writing to the CCCC is a total waste of time. Personnelly Sunday suits me fine but it’s impossible to keep everyone happy.

  14. If they got rid of that utterly ridiculous preliminary quarter final after the All Ireland group stage, that’s a week saved. If a team finishes 3rd in a group of 4, then they have no business qualifying.

    Also, Leinster & Ulster have the most teams. Ulster. So logically, their championships should start first. But no, the GAA haven’t the foresight to think of this. Also, Connaught and Ulster finish a week before Munster and Leinster, so the Connaught & Ulster winning groups of 4 start a week sooner than the other 2 groups. What a load of nonsense

  15. @catcol: The round robin gets us to 3 top teams in each of 4 groups so 12 teams left.

    pQFs play off each of the 2nd and 3rd placed teams to get us down to 8 teams (4 1st place finishes and the 4 winners of 2nd 3rd placed teams) to get to a usual QF > SF > F system.

    Not sure if that explains what you were looking for?
    (Possibly: HQ wanted a few extra games capable of drawing a crowd for $$$ – is more the underlying explanation)

  16. Am I right in saying we can lose our next 5 competitive games in row and win 3rd round robin game and still progress?

  17. Yes Mayo Focus. To think that we are going to have a league after provincial finals with 3 of the 4 teams in each group qualifying is ludicrous. How many bites do you need to have at the cherry?
    As for league final, if its not brought forward by 24 hours to sat afternoon and synchronised with train times, its of little use to supporters and not much good to players either. Is it an April fools joke?

  18. @Gizmobobs: There’s a scenario where you could draw that last round robin game after 5 defeats and make a pQF on score difference.

  19. TsuDhoNim, better again. Once you in top 6 of division one the provincials really are more or less irrelevant.
    I know seedings etc. But if we not capable of winning the third team in group of 4 no point being there.

  20. @giz ya that’s about it. My head is melted. Some days I’m thinking focus on rossies other days I’m thinking don’t lose to kerry or Galway in croke Park and so what if we lose to rossies in champo, we’d have a break b4 a load of games in a row… It is madness tho, 4 games on a row then nothing for weeks on end if we lose to roscommon…
    I’d actually make more sense of a tracker mortgage I reckon…

  21. You could potentially have a team coming 2nd in their group on 5 points (score difference) playing a 3rd place team in another group with only 1 point (score difference again). What a joke if that 3rd placed team wins the preliminary quarter. It’s a joke.

    The non seeding of province is now a joke too. I mean no offence to Leitrim or Sligo, but having all the Division 1 teams on the same side of the draw is farcical.

    It’s a pure shit show. The best format is staring them in the face but they won’t get rid of the outdated provincial structure. A league/knock out is the way to go but this one is arseways.

    Create a division 1a and 1b from the current division 1 and 2. And the top 2 in each go through to semis. Or 4 groups of 4 and the top 2 for quarter finals. The same set up for division 3 and 4. There’s a reason that format is used in pretty much every county in Ireland.

  22. The preliminary quarter final is needed to stop the group stages being full of horrible dead rubbers in the final round.

  23. I know of at least dozen supporters who are flying into Dublin on the Sunday morning for the game. Croke Park has said through e-mail on Tuesday that the Division 1and 2 finals are on 2nd of April.

  24. Imo with the exception of the preliminary quarter, the new all Ireland structure is fine, at least in the short term. Give a few years and see how it goes

    The next step that’s needed imo is reform of the provincial championships, and I would expect that given the influence the provincial councils had over the current format, the pressure will start to be applied there

    For me, I don’t see why a 6 team league can’t work for Connacht. Play a final, 3rd v 4th and 5th v 6th, to finish so everyone gets the same amount of games. If time is an issue, abolish the FBD and play the perceived mismatches in January

  25. Correct JR, what I’m saying is if we can’t draw or beat the 4th team (or one of the others, be they Dublin and Kerry or whoever) We’ve no business in the latter stages.
    I’d imagine this format is the start of a full move to league/championship merger, the provincials will then take over from the FBD etc. Or something along those lines.

    We just have to wait it out. If we lose next 5 games and win Sam I’ll be as happy anyway 🙂

  26. The provincial championship is nowhere near as important to a team like Mayo in the current format. I think they’re waiting for the general public to slowly realise this over the next few years and then it’ll be more palatable when it scrapped or moved to pre season down the line.

    Mayo team and supporters have to be cute/smart about the way it’s fallen for us this year.Its absolutely not a total disaster if we lose to either Roscommon or Galway in Connacht. It feels weird to us of course but the goal post have moved.

  27. Winning Connaught is important in so far as you have home venue against seed 2 & 3 and away against seed 4.

  28. Are you sure first seeds have two home games JR? Is one of those not at a neutral venue?

  29. @JR – It is a home, away and neutral fixture.

    If we win Connaught it would mean we get a seed 3 at home , a seed 4 away and a losing provincial finalist in a neutral venue.

    If we lose to Roscommon or Galway before a Connaught final it would mean we play a Provincial winner away, a losing provincial finalist at home and a Seed 4 in a neutral venue.

    Extract from GAA website below;

    During the Round One group phase the schedule of matches is pre-determined with each team playing one home and one away game in the opening two rounds. Round Three fixtures will be played at neutral venues.

    Game 1: Seed 1 v Seed 3, Seed 2 v Seed 4

    Game 2: Seed 3 v Seed 2, Seed 4 v Seed 1

    Game 3: Seed 1 v Seed 2, Seed 3 v Seed 4

  30. “I think they’re waiting for the general public to slowly realise this over the next few years and then it’ll be more palatable when it scrapped or moved to pre season down the line”

    Couldn’t agree more FW – you have it in one

    Teams will probably take the provincials fairly seriously by default this year as its the first year of the new format and there are unknowns as a result

    I suspect by next season we’ll have teams experimenting during them and doing heavy training blocks and all that.

    It was mentioned above but its not actually completely out of the question that Galway/Mayo could actually lose their next 4 matches, but yet still be in the the All Ireland race

  31. Even better, you can actually in theory fail to win your first ELEVEN competitive matches of the year and win the All Ireland 😀 😀 Have you ever seen a system as daft?

    ^^^ if you go through Division 1 winless, then lose first provincial game, then lose 2 and draw 1 in “round robin” stage

  32. The irony of ironies would be if someone were to upset the Kingdom in the Munster Final. Suddenly winning Connacht wouldn’t look as smart

  33. Is winning your province and then winning your group in theory a path to semi final avoiding Dublin and Kerry if they do the same ?

  34. Assume just winning the group gets you seeded in quarter finals?

    The province gets you seeded in the group – a group which has 3 out of qualifying, and a 50% chance of containing Sligo or Westmeath and a 100% chance of containing a Division 2 or lower team

  35. I’d say so Sean, assuming they win their provincial competitions.

    The system will work to the advantage of a team like Tyrone I think. Likely to be beaten in Ulster, third seed, will survive the pool, and then begin to get serious in the quarter finals.

  36. @Sean Burke

    Yes, in that case you would play Kerry in the semi final

    But it’s the win your group that is most important. Win your group and you avoid the other group winners until quarter final.

    Lose in Connacht and you’ve a 50/50 chance of avoiding Dublin and Kerry anyway. If you do draw Kerry, then you’re also drawing the Connacht runner up. Dublin is the one to avoid as they’ll also have the Ulster runner up. But as I’ve said previously, Dublin have absolutely no motivation to even reach a Leinster final. Not making a Leinster final pretty much guarantees that there’ll be at the worst at least one non promoted D2 team or lower in each group

  37. @Sean Bourke. Yes is the short answer.
    The 4 provincial winnrs will end up in semifinal provided they keep on winning.

    All-Ireland Championship round-robin
    Sixteen teams progress to the All-Ireland Championship round-robin:

    The 4 provincial champions
    The 4 beaten provincial finalists
    The 2022 Tailteann Cup winners (Westmeath)
    The 7 next-ranked teams, based on final position in the 2023 National Football League

    In the All-Ireland Championship round-robin, 16 teams are drawn into four groups of four teams. Each team plays the other teams in its group once, earning 2 points for a win and 1 for a draw. Each team plays one home, one away and one neutral fixture.

    The top three in each group advance to the knockout stages; first-place teams to the All-Ireland quarter-finals, and second- and third-placed teams to the preliminary quarter-finals.[6]

    All-Ireland format

    The four second-placed teams play against the third-placed teams in the preliminary quarter-finals. The winners of the preliminary quarter-finals advance to play the group winners in the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Two semi-finals and a final follow.

  38. It will be advantage to the teams with greatest depth.

    My understanding is Connaught winners play Munster winners in the semi finals.

    So if we win Connaught and then top our group and Kerry win Munster and top their group we play each other in a Semi Final.

  39. Yes I thought so and not been flippant but to me it’s simple , full steam ahead , lift the Nestor and plough on through the group so .

  40. JKEL – we are paired with Munster for pool stages. Mayo win Connaught, and we will likely, (by no means guaranteed), have Cork as our second seed. Sligo say as Connaught runners would be in Kerry’s group if Kerry win Munster. Then from what I can gather seeds three and four come in via a draw.

  41. @Ciaran

    Assuming that you are giving Sligo the Connacht final place, 7/16 chance of playing either them or Westmeath. It’s 25% of drawing either individually, but there’s also a 1/16 chance of drawing both.

    That’s ignoring the possibility of Westmeath reaching a Leinster final, which would make it a straight 50/50 of getting one of them

  42. @JKEL88: That semi final information had been floating about (mostly from being on the wikipedia page though I haven’t checked to see if it’s still there) but the latest information from John Fogarty in the Examiner discredits/corrects it.

    “And how do the provinces match in the Sam Maguire Cup?

    The Munster winners will go into a group with the Connacht runners-up and vice-versa and Leinster and Ulster accordingly. In all four groups, the provincial finalists have home advantage in their first game followed by an away game against a league qualifier (fourth seeds against first seeds, third seeds against second seeds) before they face one another in the final round at a neutral venue. The All-Ireland semi-finals are not predetermined by provincial matches but the avoidance of repeat pairings where possible.”

    I’d asked one of their team (Maurice Brosnan) about the discrepancies on the Provincial match ups (what was on the wiki disagreed with what was on and neither seemed clear on it) on Twitter a short time back and he sounded like they were going to dig into it… so I’d take this update from John as the official line.

  43. I hope Mayo win Sunday next v Monaghan, for several reasons! ..1,.. I want to preserve McHale Park good record under Kevin McStay, …2 , I want Mayo to win, because I always want Mayo to win!…3, I want Mayo to keep the feel good factor only winning brings, sometimes after a loss, it can be difficult to bring it back… 4 , I want Mayo to win because it absolutely garuntees Roscommon Div One status for 2024.. even if it’s something that the Rossies can and very likely will achieve on their own.. and I for selfish travel reason’s , and because of gouging Hotel prices, I want more short commutes for Mayo and it’s supporter’s in 2024. But apart from those reasons, I’m not overly concerned…. Kevin McStay’s will be very quickly forgiven if we rest a number of players, in order to have them fresher for the much more important game’s the two following weeks.. And of course there is no saying that a second string Mayo team couldn’t win regardless…I think we have to target the league final now for a win . I recall 2010, Mayo were one win away from making the league final, we had Cork in Cork who had already qualified for the league final..Cork played a second string team and Mayo beat Cork and qualified for to play Cork in the League Final. Cork easily beat Mayo in the League Final..It was the beginning of the End for John O Mahoney’s Mayo, and John O Mahoney in 2010..Cork went on to win the All Ireland final. Regardless of who we face in the League Final of 2023, one of the following, Galway, Kerry, Roscommon or Tyrone, it’s likely that all will have to play their first team if they are likely to make it..Of course Galway, Kerry or Tyrone would be at an advantage because neither of those three are scheduled to play a championship fixture the following week. Mayo and Roscommon are in the same boat and due to play each other in the championship the following Sunday. I believe winning the league final has to be our priority right now, and for Mayo,(but not Monaghan) is a dead rubber!

  44. Yes I can agree with all above. McStay &
    co very focussed on one game at a time. I can see a few changes for Sunday, but for Mayo, they will play with the attitude that this game matters. Tuohy, Towey and Doherty are three Id like to see….

  45. On the Ditch, I’d imagine Tuohy be midfield or 10.

    Doherty will surely start at 6 where he came in for Loftus. I’d imagine there be wholesale changes to give lads game time. With 5 or 6 regulars up the spine.

    Still expect a win.

  46. There is of course another way to ensure an 8 day gap after League Final. Move the Roscommon match forward 24 hours to the Bank Holiday Monday. I’m sure the Rossies would be happy with an extra preparation day too.

  47. Teach Iorrais too late for that change now. Mayo v April set for April 9th with TV coverage and plenty have accommodation booked for that date.

    speaking of late, the Mayo published team v Monaghan. Just adds to the rumours that a 2nd choice team will be named.

  48. Not sure about too many change. To be fair to players coming in they have to play with the best to evaluate performance. McStay will not weaken the team, i expect a big performance.

  49. 9 changes in the team for Sunday. Only Sam Callinan, Stephen Coen, Matthew Ruane, Jordan Flynn, Aidan O’Shea and Ryan O’Donoghue named from the starting team last weekend.

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