Northern Ireland news

Croke Park GAA matches put back to avoid Euro 2016 clash

The GAA has put back the start time of two Leinster Championship semi-final games due to the Republic's Euro 2016 game on Sunday. Picture by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
John Monaghan

THE GAA has confirmed that two games scheduled for Croke Park on Sunday are to start later to avoid clashing with the Republic of Ireland.

Robbie Brady's dramatic late winner against Italy on Wednesday night set the team up for a last 16 showdown with hosts France, starting at 2pm Irish time.

In an attempt to avoid a dilemma for fans torn between the two sports, the GAA announced that throw-in times for its Leinster football championship semi-finals would be put back.

The Kildare vs Westmeath game will now begin at 4.15pm, while Dublin will take on Meath at 6.35pm.

In addition, the second half of the soccer match will be shown live on the big screens in Croke Park.

Back in June 2002 a similar clash during the World Cup resulted in large gaps in the crowd at an Ulster Championship semi-final between Derry and Donegal.

The throw-in time was not moved on that occasion, prompting some fans to opt to follow the Republic's nail-biting match against Spain, which went to extra time.

Watch: fan reaction to that Robbie Brady goal

Writing in The Irish News the next day, current Derry manager Damian Barton observed: "The lack of common sense in sticking with a 2.40pm throw-in despite Ireland's World Cup game with Spain served to demean what should have been a great occasion."

The dilemma this year falls to Fermanagh GAA fans who will be forced to choose between watching their county take on Wexford in the All-Ireland qualifiers and Northern Ireland's game against Wales, with both games beginning at 5pm tomorrow.

Northern Ireland goalkeeping hero Michael McGovern was himself a talented young GAA player in his native Fermanagh and was tipped as a future county star had he not opted for soccer.

Pauric McGurn, Fermanagh GAA PRO, said that the county had requested a 2pm throw-in for the game but Wexford had been keen on a later start.

"We wanted just to get home a bit earlier but Wexford wanted the 5pm throw-in," he said.

"We do have club fixtures scheduled for Sunday at 4pm and we are trying to get them switched to Friday night or a different time on Sunday. A few clubs have already made changes."

Watch: match review

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