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.