GAA players should be compensated for Fridays: Paul Grimley
Armagh manager Paul Grimley is prepared to enthusiastically embrace the concept of Friday night matches in the Allianz Football League – but with a significant proviso.
The Orchard County are scheduled to meet neighbours Down in the opening Allianz League Division Two encounter on Friday, February 7 next year as part of the GAA's bid to further promote Friday night competitive inter-county action.
Grimley is urging the GAA authorities to "make a gesture" in terms of compensating players for the time they may have to take off work in order to prepare properly for such games.
"All county players like to make sure they are in the best possible shape both physically and mentally for matches and Friday night games would undoubtedly involve them in additional sacrifices," said Grimley.
"The players are the greatest commodity that the GAA possesses and if we are to go down the road of Friday night games then I feel that they should be compensated in some way.
"I am not suggesting that the amateur ethos should be breached but players would have to take time off work and the association should be prepared to make a gesture in terms of looking after them."
Grimley reveals that a number of his players are involved in family-run businesses while others are based away from the county.
"These boys have heavy commitments but they all like to produce their best performances. I feel it is important that this is recognised and that they are not taken for granted," said Grimley.
But while the Armagh boss offers a conditional welcome to Friday night action, Down chairman Seamus Walsh pours cold water on this initiative.
Walsh is convinced that the efforts which the Down board has made over recent years to market Saturday night matches at Pairc Esler, Newry is now bearing fruit and he would be reluctant to see any departure from current arrangements.
"I also believe that Friday night games would present logistical problems for players and fans," said Walsh.
And he is adamant that progress made to date in marketing Saturday night games could be undone if Friday fixtures were to be embraced.
"I think that there is always a special atmosphere at Pairc Esler on Saturday nights. People come early to the games, they can meet up with friends before the throw-in and there is always a bit of entertainment," said Walsh.
"This would contrast sharply, in my view, with a Friday night situation where fans would have to rush home from work, maybe get a change of clothing, grab a bite to eat and dash to the ground.
"While I am aware that the GAA is keen to offer a greater spread of fixtures over a given weekend, I honestly do not think that Friday night inter-county games would have massive appeal," Walsh added.
Meanwhile, former Ballyholland and Down player Shane Mulholland has been confirmed as the new county minor football manager.
Mulholland succeeds Peter McGrath who recently stepped down from the post.