Ulster GAA chiefs will be taking a particularly close interest in Friday’s draw in Kiev for the 2012 European Championship Finals.
They will be anxious to ensure that none of their provincial championship ties clash with matches in the Euro showpiece competition in which the Republic of Ireland are involved.
At this point in time it looks certain that such clashes will be avoided but unlike the other provinces in which mundane fare is on offer over the course of the week-ends of January June 9/10 and June 16/17 Ulster can offer two championship blockbusters — thus the province has greater reason to hope for avoiding fixture clashes.
On Sunday June 10 Armagh will host Tyrone at the Morgan Athletic Grounds, Armagh — mouth-watering tie that is certain to be an all-ticket affair and a sell-out at that.
And on Saturday June 16 Derry will meet the winners of the Cavan v Donegal preliminary round tie.
The expectation is that reigning Ulster champions Donegal will win this latter match meaning that their clash with the Oak Leaf county will take place at MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey. This would be a re-run of this year’s Ulster final in which Donegal clinched their first provincial title in nineteen years.
It is not by coincidence that the Ulster championship matches scheduled for June 10 and 16 are due to be televised live by both the BBC and RTE, thus underlining their enormous appeal.
As things stand, the fact that the earliest kick-off times in the European Championship will be 5pm should mean that the matches, which get under way on Friday June 8, will have minimal impact on the GAA championships.
In the event of the Republic of Ireland's games being played on a Saturday or Sunday, the GAA could be forced to bring forward or delay some of their provincial championship games but no major disruption is foreseen.
Ulster Council secretary Danny Murphy and his Leinster counterpart Michael Delaney have already gone on record to state that they will be “flexible if necessary” in terms of throw-in times for major championship matches that might potentially clash with any fixtures involving Giovanni Trapattoni ’s men.