Draw for GAA’s most radical championship to date live on RTÉ radio

With the All-Ireland split into two grades, next year’s provincial competitions can affect which counties qualify for the Sam Maguire

Draws for the GAA’s annual provincial championships are set to be confirmed for Saturday week, October 15th. They are scheduled to take place on RTÉ Radio 1′s Saturday Sports programme.

This will finalise the fixtures for the start of the most radically experimental football season in the association’s history – one that will divide the counties in two groups with one half heading into the Sam Maguire and the other into the Tier 2 Tailteann Cup.

These rankings will firstly be based on provincial finalists with the remaining eight places allocated on the next year’s national league with the promoted counties from Division Three qualifying for the Sam Maguire and the relegated teams from Division Two dropping to the Tailteann.

Should counties from the bottom two divisions of the league get as far as their provincial finals, however, they will displace teams from Division Two, working backwards from the two promoted from Division Three (ranked 15th and 16th).


The relative standings in the division will be settled by the result of the Division Three league final – regardless of which county tops the actual table.

This has the potential to create unhappiness should teams find themselves regraded mid championship and for last season, it was decided that in the case of such instances arising, the Sam Maguire would simply become a larger competition with 17, 18 or however many counties were needed to prevent teams being unexpectedly recategorised.

This protection will not be available next year, meaning that if an unranked side progresses to its provincial final, the status of the county that finishes runner-up in Division Three will be reversed – and so on.

As some sort of reassurance, this fate would not have befallen any team last year, as all provincial finalists will be playing in the top two divisions of the league in 2023.

The format does consequently place significance on Saturday week’s draws. In Munster for instance, there has always been a perceived opportunity for the other counties when Kerry and Cork have been drawn on the same side of the football championships.

Waterford are the only county not to have reached a Munster final in the past 30 years and both Clare and Tipperary have won titles since the draw stopped seeding the main two counties.

On Saturday week Limerick and Kerry – as last season’s finalists – will be seeded to the semi-finals. Tipperary, champions as recently as two years ago, are in Division Three next season but could conceivably reach the provincial final, having not been promoted.

A similar possibility exists in Connacht if the big three of Galway, Mayo and Roscommon end up on the same side of the draw, leaving Sligo, London and Leitrim tussling on the other side.

Leinster GAA has also stated that it will be discontinuing the practice of recent years, which delayed the semi-final draw until after the quarter-finals. This was done to dispel the gloom of any county on the same side of the draw as Dublin, winners for the past 12 years and finalists in 19 of the past 22 provincial championships.

The retention of the league final, a proposal to abolish which was made by the Competitions Control Committee, is seen in some quarters as a necessary decision given the uncertainty over revenues with next year’s change of championship format.

Experience of round-robins hadn’t previously been a rip-roaring success until it extended to the provincial hurling championships.

There is a critical difference, however, between the two in that hurling has proved very competitive amongst the top counties whereas the 2023 Sam Maguire will be breaking the top 16 into seeded groups of four with little prospect of widespread competitiveness even if the dreaded dead rubbers have been minimised.

The Tailteann Cup will also be based on this format and there are concerns that whereas the new championship was regarded as a success earlier this summer, it was in its inaugural year based on knockout. Will there be the staying power for three rounds of league fixtures even if the competition starts poorly for counties?

Because of hurling’s round-robin format, no draws are necessary but Leinster hope to finalise its pairings whereas Munster will again adopt the approach of running a round over two weeks to guarantee no team will have to play three consecutive weekends.

Leinster GAA also confirmed dates and venues for the concluding stages of the senior club championships. Both finals will be played on a double bill on December 4th with the semi-finals on November 19th (football) and 27th (hurling).

As with last year, the council felt that the high-quality surface and drainage at Croke Park made it relatively weather-proof, which gave certainty of fixture but also that for many club players, the opportunity to play at the headquarters stadium would be welcome.

There is also a belief that Croke Park will draw a bigger attendance than a provincial venue simply because of the bigger walk-up crowd available in Dublin.

Crowds in last year’s semi-finals and finals were restricted to 5,000 because of the pandemic.

Leinster club fixtures

Leinster SFC club semi-finals at Croke Park, Saturday, November 19th at 5.15 and 7.0.

Leinster SHC club semi-finals at Croke Park, Sunday, November 27th at 1.30 and 3.15 and 7.0.

Leinster club finals at Croke Park, December 4th at 1.30 (SFC) and 3.30 (SHC).

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times