An update on the GAA’s fixtures calendar for the 2021 season is expected to be outlined later today (Thursday).
Intercounty teams are set to return to training on Monday April 19, with a regionalised format set to be adopted for the National Football Leagues in order to reduce the amount of travel for teams to limit the risk of Covid-19.
Ahead of that, two proposals have been put forward for counties in the National Hurling league to choose from with the decision on the preferred option having an impact on when competitive action will return.
One option is for the 12 teams in Division One to be split into two groups of six, which would see a minimum of five games for each team. Those games would be played over five consecutive weekends, with the top two teams in each group contesting the National League final, while the bottom two teams will play off in the relegation decider. It is believed that this option is the preferred one for the vast majority of counties, and it would mean games could be set to return on the weekend of May 8 following a three week training lead in.
The other option would see a system of the 12 teams drawn into three groups, which would see a four week lead in before a three game group campaign. It remains to be seen if the hurling leagues will be run on a regionalised basis, with that detail set to be announced when a definitive plan is outlined today.
Clare’s National Football League campaign will be run on a regional format, with Colm Collins’ outfit taking on Cork, Laois and Kildare in Division 2 South. It is believed that the football league is set for a May 16 start, with the fixture schedule also set to be announced in the coming days. The top two teams in the North and South groups will be promoted to Division 1, with the bottom two teams dropping down a level.
It is also understood that no intercounty challenge games will be permitted ahead of the return to competitive fixtures. No details have been outlined as to the structure or dates for the championship.
The Camogie Association are also set to confirm their plans in the coming days, with a statement on the Association’s website outlining that “we need to finalise competition structures and dates for the up-coming inter-county season, as well as ensuring advice is provided for all clubs in relation to how they can safely recommence underage activity”.