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radical reform Friday night lights could feature in GAA championship shake-up

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GPA national executive committee member and Tyrone footballer Niall Morgan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

GPA national executive committee member and Tyrone footballer Niall Morgan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

GPA national executive committee member and Tyrone footballer Niall Morgan. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The GPA have left the door open to championship matches on Friday night as part of their push for radical reform of the football championship.

The players’ body formally threw their weight behind ‘proposal B’ at a media briefing yesterday, the structure that would see the All-Ireland championship initially run off on a league basis before a knockout series.

That proposal would see the number of championship games guaranteed to a team ramp up to a minimum of seven, as well as the introduction of a Tailteann Cup.

And in a bid to ensure teams and, in particular, the second-tier competition wouldn’t be marginalised, the GPA are willing to consult members on the plan.

“I’d say the biggest part would be that it’s a (local) game, like Tyrone-Armagh, or Tyrone-Derry from an Ulster point of view,” said Tyrone’s All-Ireland-winning goalkeeper Niall Morgan, who is also a member of the GPA’s national executive committee. “In the south there’d be different permutations. I think it will be a huge talking point because not much actually happens on a Friday night in terms of sport. It could really open up an audience.

“Like the Premiership in England, you could come up with a theme of Friday night football. Players would have to be surveyed because it would have to suit them and their work schedules, but if it was put out early enough and players knew this was going to happen . . .

“Tyrone went to all-Friday night league games this year. Some players liked it and some didn’t, so it would have to be carefully surveyed.”

The GAA flirted with the notion of Friday night games back in 2013, when Carlow took on Laois in a qualifier. More than 4,500 attended that game, double the number from when the sides met a year earlier. However, the idea was shelved over player welfare concerns and compensation for players. More recently, the LGFA have played games on a Friday night.

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