Football league finals to be played next year while All-Ireland football final pushed back a week

A consensus view at Saturday’s GAA Central Council meeting was that the four league finals should be preserved

Football’s league finals were granted reprieve at Saturday’s GAA Central Council meeting, where the decision was taken to push next year’s All-Ireland football final back a week to July 30th.

The Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) had sought guidance from Central Council on a number of issues affecting next year’s calendar, which will be more extensive as a round-robin format is to be introduced into both the Tier 1 All-Ireland (Sam Maguire) and the Tailteann Cup (Tier 2).

CCCC had been looking for direction on counties’ preferences given the limited number of weeks available.

Abandoning the football league final was suggested as a way of avoiding a scenario in which divisional finalists could find themselves playing championship fixtures a week later. It was an idea supported in a personal capacity by Connacht chief executive John Prenty but a consensus view on Saturday was that the four league finals should be preserved.

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There isn’t a guaranteed clash of fixtures but it happened last year when only the Division Three final between Derry and Offaly got played because of such a conflict affecting the other divisional finalists. If it takes place next year, the relevant counties will have to play their championship opener a week later.

The extra week for the All-Ireland championship reflected a consensus compromise between allowing the intercounty season spill into August and leaving the championship to conclude a week earlier in July, like this summer.

The other main proposals went ahead as submitted. The McDonagh Cup final for Tier 2 hurling will be brought forward as part of a double bill with the All-Ireland under-20 hurling final on the weekend of May 29th.

This is to allow the McDonagh finalists a longer preparation time for their preliminary quarter-final in the MacCarthy Cup.

It was also agreed that annual congress would take place on February 18th, a week earlier than originally planned so that the two rest weeks in the national hurling league would not fall one after another, as the Fitzgibbon Cup third-level hurling final is also fixed for the same weekend.

Hurling matches weren’t scheduled to take place on either congress or Fitzgibbon weekend.

It was confirmed that intercounty training can resume on Friday, November 25th.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times