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It's a Friday first for Armagh and Down in league

By Declan Bogue

In a radical break from tradition, a National Football League match involving two northern counties is set to become the GAA's first-ever Friday night league fixture.

The Belfast Telegraph can reveal that the Division Two clash between Armagh and Down has been provisionally pencilled in by the National Fixtures Planning Committee for February 7.

Incidentally, this fixture would give Armagh only four full days of recovery from their opening fixture away to Louth on Sunday, February 2, while Down get the season off to a start the night before when they are set to welcome Ulster champions Monaghan to Newry.

The other proposed Friday night fixture during the league campaign concerns Dublin and Kildare in the fourth round of fixtures on March 7.

A Friday night game between Dublin and Mayo had been scheduled for the 2011 National League, however, this was then shelved after players and officials queried if any 'broken-time' payments would be awarded to the players, who would have been forced to take a day off work in order to prepare for a match of that magnitude.

Earlier in the summer, Laois and Carlow met in a football qualifier in Dr Cullen Park on a Friday night fixture, an arrangement that drew some level of criticism.

Dublin manager Jim Gavin was asked his view on possible compensation for players and responded: "If they are going to be taking days off work then absolutely, yes, they need to be compensated."

Some of the players involved went stronger in their criticism. Laois player Mickey Joe Tierney branded the decision "absolutely ridiculous", adding that the GAA had "no regard for either set of players."

Elsewhere in the proposed league programme, Derry begin life in the top flight after a two-year absence when they host Tyrone on the opening Saturday night.

* THE Ulster Council has confirmed that after last week's meeting of the Competitions Control Committee, the Ulster hurling final between Down and Antrim has once again been postponed.

The Ulster Council state that following correspondence from the Antrim County Committee, the decision was taken to further delay the final, which had originally been set for July 7, then postponed until November 3.

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