LEAGUE SEMI-FINALS could be scheduled for St Patrick’s Day next year as the GAA seeks to fill the date with fixtures after moving the All-Ireland club finals to January.

It was confirmed last Saturday that instead of the traditional 17 March slot, the senior deciders will be held on Sunday 19 January in 2020. The semi-finals will take place a fortnight previously on the weekend of 4-5 January.

The finals will be held in Croke Park as usual with the last four games to be staged at provincial venues.

GAA President John Horan described the decision as ‘a very simple, logical move’ as it will end the difficulty of a long winter lay-off for clubs after their provincial finals.

He believes it will be helpful for counties who have to operate without club stars for the start of the league campaign and explained why the GAA opted not to bring the All-Ireland club series to a halt in the calendar year.

“Obviously we’ll fill Patrick’s Day. It’s a big move in itself, moving them out of there, because everyone felt that’s something that couldn’t happen.

“When you look at the stretch of time – 18 weeks waiting from the provincial final, the cost and then teams like Longford, whose National League would be very much dependent on having all their players and they’re losing out on the Mullinalaghta players, the smaller counties were suffering out of the whole thing.

“I think it’s a very simple, logical move to do it. We can fill Patrick’s Day with something – it could be league hurling semi-finals or football semi-finals, or anything like that we could look at.

“The semi-finals will be at provincial venues and the final will be at Croke Park. The reason we could only bring it forward to January was because of the county and provincial club programmes that already were set, and we couldn’t get the movement.

“Bringing it to January is the first stage, and the hope is that with the counties and provinces in their planning next year, we might even be able to move it a bit more.”

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