When Slaughtneil defeated St Vincent's in the All-Ireland senior club football semi-final in Newry and set up a St Patrick's Day final date with Dr Crokes of Kerry, they left the GAA one game away from a novel scenario: two senior club teams playing in finals in both hurling and football. For while the Derry club will no doubt have celebrated their magnificent football win, they will have to prepare for an All-Ireland club hurling semi-final against Cuala of Dublin on Saturday 25th February at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh.
And, with both hurling and football finals typically taking place on St Patrick's Day at Croke Park, the GAA could well have a difficult decision on their hands if Slaughtneil beat Cuala: which final do they move, and what date will they play it on?
Balls.ie contacted Alan Milton, the GAA's Head of Communications, and while he agreed that there was a very real possibility of Slaughtneil participating in both finals, he said that it would be "disrespectful" to Cuala to publicly announce any contingency plans before that hurling semi-final next weekend. Milton said that parties concerned can "rest assured the CCCC (Central Competitions Control Committee) will have a contingency plan if that goes to pass" and that the GAA "won't be slow in publicising" such a plan in the wake of any Slaughtneil victory on the 25th.
Milton told Ian O'Riordan of The Irish Times that there would be no situation where players would be forced to play two games on one day:
But you can assume if it did happen, you couldn’t ask the players to play twice in one day. That’s a given. The question then is do you move one game, both games, and these are questions for the CCCC.
Slaughtneil and Cuala will be playing for a final spot alongside Ballyea of Clare, who beat St Thomas' of Galway in a thrilling semi-final at Semple Stadium on Saturday 4th February.