Dublin to use Croke Park for league games
GAVIN CUMMISKEY Reports
2011 MASTER FIXTURES : THE GAA have released their master fixture list for 2011 following confirmation that Dublin will play four of their National Football League fixtures at Croke Park this spring.
The Dublin hurlers will join them for two of these dates, against Tipperary on February 19th and Kilkenny on April 2nd, after negotiations were completed earlier this week.
The championship officially begins on May 1st when New York welcome Connacht champions Roscommon to Gaelic Park, with the traditional slow start continuing a fortnight later as Antrim take on Laois in the Leinster hurling championship opener.
Ulster football also gets out of the blocks that weekend, on May 15th, when Antrim travel over to Ballybofey to play Donegal, but the first real action-filled Sunday doesn’t arrive until May 22nd.
That sees Kerry’s opening defence of their provincial title against Tipperary in Killarney, while the All-Ireland football champions Cork face Clare at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. There is also a Leinster football double header at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, with Kildare against Wicklow and Laois versus Longford.
Thereafter the championship gets into full steam until September.
The next Sunday delivers the already eagerly anticipated Munster hurling championship opener as a rebuilding Cork side face All-Ireland champions Tipperary.
Matters advance at a decent gallop right to July 3rd when the Munster football final and Leinster hurling decider, in Croke Park, should satisfy television viewers in a summer devoid of major international tournaments like the soccer World Cup or the 2012 Olympics Games in London.
Either the Dublin or Offaly hurlers will provide opposition to Galway in the Leinster semi-final with Kilkenny the favourites to be waiting in the final.
Seven days later and the Leinster football final is paired on the same bill as the Munster hurling decider, where either Limerick or Waterford, who meet in the semi-final on May 12th, will play one from Cork, Tipperary or Clare, who await the winners of the preliminary round.
A week later, July 17th, brings us the Ulster and Connacht football finals, for which Galway and Mayo are due to meet in the semi-final at McHale Park on June 26th.
Several championship throw-in times will be finalised when the GAA and RTÉ have an opportunity to meet in January.
The National League begins with Dublin away to Armagh and Mayo at home to All-Ireland runners-up Down on Saturday, February 5th, while Kerry host All-Ireland champions Cork the following day. Monaghan versus Galway completes the opening Division One games.
The National Hurling League commences on Saturday, February 12th, headlined by a repeat of last September’s All-Ireland final as Tipperary and Kilkenny meet at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
On February 19th Dublin host the Cork footballers (throw-in 7.30) and Tipperary hurlers (5.45pm) with a significant marketing campaign expected to entice people into Croke Park.
The next match at GAA headquarters is the NFL game between Dublin and Kerry on February 26th, another Saturday night match, with the Dublin and Kilkenny camogie teams due out beforehand. There is one NFL Sunday match at Croke Park, on May 20th, when Dublin face Mayo, preceded by a ladies football league game featuring All-Ireland champions, Dublin.
The fourth Croke Park fixture goes back to a Saturday night, April 2nd, when Dublin face All-Ireland runners-up Down in round six of the league, that match to be preceded by the Dublin hurlers against Brian Cody’s Kilkenny.
Dublin fans can gain entry to all four double-headers for €45 with the same combination ticket for under-16s being just €10. These are available via ticketmaster.ie.
The GAA already announced this week that their season ticket package is priced at €75; this allows supporters attend all their county’s National League matches and the first championship game. In the case of the Dublin footballers, this is a return to Croke Park on June 5th against the winners of Laois/Longford.
The Division One and Two football league finals are set April 24th with the hurling deciders due for decision on May 1st.
Next year’s All-Ireland hurling final falls on September 4th with the football decider on September 18th.
Other significant dates include the International Rules Tests in Australia on October 21st and 28th, while the next GAA president will be chosen at Congress, in Mullingar, on April 15th-16th.