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Sixmilebridge players celebrate with the cup following their senior championship final win over O Callaghan's Mills at Cusack Park. Photograph by John Kelly

June 7 return slated for adult club fixtures

Adult competitive club action could return as early as Monday, June 7 according to the proposed Clare GAA Club Masters Fixtures Programme for 2021 that was issued to the clubs on Tuesday.
Scheduled for ratification at the re-convened May meeting of the county board next Monday evening, the draft plan sets out a condensed Football and Hurling League structure over June and July before the County Championships commence in August and conclude with both the senior hurling and football finals on the first weekend in November.
Comprised of Martin Hehir (Ballyea/Clondegad), Tony O’Donnell (Crusheen), Paraic Boland (Broadford), Tom Duggan (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield), David O’Brien (St Joseph’s Miltown) and Colm Browne (Kilrush Shamrocks), the Masters Fixtures Committee, in their accompanying notes, outlined their reasoning for their scheduled calendar.
“We have approached the 2021 Masters Fixtures Schedule with a mindset of getting clubs back playing games after the long layoff since Autumn 2020 and this is very much the focus with the schedule of league games detailed below. While there is additional time available in the 2021 calendar for club championship over 2020, our senior championships are complicated by the fact that no relegation applied in 2020 and therefore the senior hurling championship will have 17 teams and the senior football championship will have 13 teams. Due to this and the fact that two teams will be relegated from senior, intermediate and junior (where applicable) grades to compensate for 2020, we have proposed revised formats to the championships. The aim is to provide clubs with additional championships games before any club would be involved in relegation.
“In addition, as the senior and Under 20 inter-county championships will take place in advance of the club championships, we must also be conscious of our inter-county players and management and afford them requisite time to prepare while allowing clubs sufficient games to reintroduce county players after inter-county activity.
“We propose to commence league activity on June 7th, the first date on which club games are permitted.”
The Master Fixtures Programme also included:
• A commitment to play the 2020 Junior A Football Championship Final between Ballyvaughan and the Banner), taking into account their representation on inter-countypanels (Senior and Under 20), the Leaving Cert and the need to complete the game in advance of 2021 club championships commencing.
• Knock-out stages of county championships to be decided on the day including county finals. So in the event of a draw, two periods of ten minutes of extra-time will be played and if still level, the match will be decided by penalties.
• Midweek refixtures in the event of a postponement of a game due to adverse weather or a bereavement or in the event that play-offs are required from a Group/
• No dual player clash will be permitted for county finals so in the event that a dual club is involved in both finals or a club is involved in one final with one or more isolated players who also play with a club in the other final, one of the finals will be deferred by a week.
• The proposed dates for the Senior Hurling (August 13th-15th) and Football (Weekend of July 30th-August 2nd) Championships will require alteration should either the Clare Senior Hurling or Football teams continue to be involved in the All-Ireland Championship series in August.
• County Committee is due to decide on the age group which Clare will run a championship on Under 19, Under 20 or Under 21, with time constraints due to the All-Ireland Under 20 Inter-County Championships, dictating that the earliest possible start date for the club version would be November.
• Time constraints have also ruled out the possible completion of the 2020 Under 21 Hurling Championships. Similarly, the 2020 Under 21 Football Championships will not commence either.
• Adult Club Leagues will consist of five matches, with no relegation or promotion for 2021 as clubs will be without their inter-county contingents at both Senior and Under 20 levels.

Proposed Formats

Hurling

2021 County Senior Hurling Championship (Proposed Start Date – Weekend of August 13th-15th)

17 teams divided into four groups, with three groups of 4 teams and one group of 5 teams. As semi-finalists from 2020, Ballyea, Éire Óg, O’Callaghan’s Mills and Sixmilebridge will be seeded in separate groups, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the quarter-finals (Group winner v Group runner-up).
The bottom team in each group will enter the relegation play-offs, with a draw to determine two matches in which the loser of both is demoted to intermediate for 2022.
A Senior B Championship will also take place for the four 3rd Placed teams in each group along with the 4th placed team in the group of 5, with a preliminary round leading to semi-finals.

2021 County intermediate Hurling Championship (Proposed Start Date – Weekend of August 13th-15th)
16 teams divided into four groups of four teams, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the quarter-finals (Group winner v Group runner-up).
As semi-finalists from 2020, Smith O’Brien’s, St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield and Tubber will be seeded in separate groups.
The bottom team in each group will enter the relegation play-offs, with a draw to determine two matches in which the loser of both is demoted to intermediate for 2022.

2021 County Junior A Hurling Championship (Proposed Start Date – Weekend of August 20th-22nd)

12 teams divided into three groups of four teams, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the quarter-finals along with the two best 3rd Placed Teams based on points and then scoring difference.
As semi-finalists from 2020, Clooney-Quin, Crusheen and Kilmaley will be seeded in separate groups, with no repeat pairings permitted for the quarter-finals.
The bottom team in each group will enter a three-way relegation play-off.
The first team drawn will receive a bye. The other two teams will play off with the losing team relegated. The winning team will play the team which received the bye and the losing team from this tie will also be relegated.

Football

2021 County Senior Football Championship (Proposed Start Date – Weekend of July 30th-August 2nd)

13 teams divided into three groups, with two group of 4 teams and one group of 5 teams.
The top two teams from each group advance to the quarter-finals along with the 3rd Placed Team in the group of 5 and the winner of a play-off between the two 3rd placed teams in the group of four.
As semi-finalists from 2020, Cratloe, Kilmurry Ibrickane, Lissycasey and St Breckan’s will be seeded in separate groups, with one seed in the groups of four and two seeds in the group of 5, with no repeat pairings permitted for the quarter-finals. The bottom team in each group will enter a three-way relegation play-off. The first team drawn will receive a bye. The other two teams will play off with the losing team relegated. The winning team will play the team which received the bye and the losing team from this tie will also be relegated.

2021 County Intermediate Football Championship (Proposed Start Date – Weekend of July 30th-August 2nd)

12 teams divided into three groups of four teams, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the quarter-finals along with the two best 3rd Placed Teams based on points and then scoring difference.
As semi-finalists from 2020, Corofin, Kildysart and Shannon Gaels will be seeded in separate groups, with no repeat pairings permitted for the quarter-finals.
The bottom team in each group will enter a three-way relegation play-off. The first team drawn will receive a bye. The other two teams will play off with the losing team relegated. The winning team will play the team which received the bye and the losing team from this tie will also be relegated.

2021 County Junior A Football Championship (Proposed Start Date – Weekend of August 6-8th)

15 teams divided into four groups, with three groups of 4 teams and one group of 3 teams.
The top two teams from each group advance to the quarter-finals (Group winner v Group runner-up).
As semi-finalists from 2020, Ennistymon, St Senan’s Kilkee along with the loser of the 2020 final between Ballyvaughan and the Banner, will be seeded into separate 4 team groups.
The bottom team in each group will enter the relegation play-offs, with a draw to determine two matches in which the loser of both is demoted to Junior B for 2022.

By Eoin Brennan

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