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GAA legend claims ‘exposure’s being lost’ to Prem and urges split season change

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DEAN ROCK believes the GAA championships are losing exposure to the Premier League – and called for a change to arrest the damage.

The provincial football championships come to a close this weekend, with Dublin and Louth facing in the Leinster decider, and Armagh and Donegal in the Ulster final.

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Dean Rock called for a change to the All-Ireland seasonCredit: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
He argued that the GAA is losing exposure to the Premier League

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He argued that the GAA is losing exposure to the Premier LeagueCredit: AP Photo/Dave Thompson

Last weekend, Kerry were crowned Munster champions yet again with an unconvincing win over Clare while Galway claimed the Connacht title with a dramatic victory over Mayo.

Upon completion of the provincials, the All-Ireland SFC begins next weekend with the round robin stage.

However, concerns have been raised amid disappointing attendances for the Leinster semi-finals at Croke Park.

Meanwhile, there has been some criticism of the current split season format, which dedicates the first half of the year to inter-county and the second half to club.

This has meant that every All-Ireland football and hurling final has taken place in July, compared to its traditional September date.

Eight-time Sam Maguire winner Dean Rock was asked about his view on the split season in his column for the Irish Times, with the Dubliner advocating for the concept.

The 34-year-old responded: “As a player I got to experience the traditional September All-Ireland final, and then more recently the July All-Ireland final, but I understand the GAA are in a difficult position now, trying to get that split-season balance right.

“Back in my early days, we’d be waiting three or four or sometimes five weeks in between championship games, and most players will say they hated that.

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“I didn’t mind it, although the long wait between games was an issue at times.

“The schedule now is perfect, two weeks between games, the odd back-to-back week is brilliant too.

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“Then you look at this month, lots of games are coming on top of other, so you’re missing out on some of the best games. Football and hurling.”

While attendances at Croke Park have been disappointing, GAAHQ hosted over 82,000 people for Leinster’s Champions Cup semi-final win over Northampton.

Meanwhile, the beginning of the All-Ireland series corresponds with the Premier League run-in.

Rock argued that the GAA could arrest the damage by pushing the All-Ireland finals out to the end of August, as opposed to their current dates of July 21 (hurling) and 28 (football).

Such a move has been previously backed by new GAA President Jarlath Burns.

Rock added: “It’s competing against the end of the Premier League and the European rugby cup, so I think the GAA is losing out on the exposure there.

“I always loved the All-Ireland club finals on St Patrick’s Day too, it just felt unique, way bigger crowds in Croke Park as well.

“That’s also lost a lot, even though club players might prefer playing that earlier.

“One thing that’s worth considering is pushing it all back to the end of August.

Space it out that way, rather that squeeze all the finals in July.

“And if the club championship started in September, I think most people would see that as ideal, and I think the GAA has the leverage to do that.”

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