Joe Kernan: We’ll be gripped by Saturday night fever
Another outbreak of Saturday night fever is imminent — and I must say I for one am delighted.
When the idea of staging floodlit National League games on Saturdays was initially mooted, it met with a rather muted response, the theory then being that this would conflict with the fans’ social lives and consequently gates would suffer.
Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. Saturday night National League games are now not only extremely popular but the fact that several are televised live and that they also permit those more committed followers to go to another match of their choice on the following day as well suggests that the GAA is on to a real winner here.
It might be assumed that because the television cameras are at some games attendances could be affected but this is not the case.
From an Ulster perspective, you could hardly ask for a more appetising league opener than Derry v Tyrone this Saturday night in Celtic Park while the Meath v Armagh clash in Pairc Tailteann, Navan will also bring out the supporters in their thousands.
Indeed, the league programme further down the line contains even more extensive Saturday night fixture lists and this will afford players the opportunity to spend more time with their families and friends on Sundays.
Even the idea of Friday night fixtures has been mooted in the recent past and I see no reason why this could not become a reality particularly where neighbouring counties are involved. There do not appear to be any insurmountable barriers, say, to a Down v Armagh fixture or a Derry v Donegal tie.
But perhaps this may be some way down the line yet although from soundings taken from some fans there would be no objections to Friday night fixtures if they were to be brought in tomorrow.
With Tyrone, Derry and Monaghan in Division One; Down, Armagh and Donegal in Division Two; and Cavan, Antrim and Fermanagh in Division Three the stage is set for some interesting ‘all-Ulster’ contests in each of these three divisions.