Tight turnarounds on the cards again as GAA opts to retain double-header league football finals

Proposal to remove league finals failed to gain enough support

The four divisional Allianz League Football finals will be fixed for Croke Park again next year – with two double-headers to be played over consecutive days at the end of March.

It is planned to have the Division Three and Four finals played at GAA headquarters on Saturday, March 30th with the Division One and Two deciders taking place the following afternoon, Sunday, March 31st.

A proposal by the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee to remove league finals gathered traction last year but ultimately failed to gain enough support with Central Council delegates, who opted instead to retain the four showpiece matches.

The idea behind the motion was to free up an extra weekend in the calendar and thus avoid a scenario whereby teams had to play a championship opener just one week after competing in a league final.


However, the league deciders were not consigned to history by Central Council and so three counties – Mayo, Sligo and Wicklow – did find themselves this season in a situation where they had to play championship football just one week after appearing in a league final at Croke Park.

Kevin McStay’s Mayo won the Division One decider on April 2nd but lost a Connacht quarter-final to Roscommon just seven days later. Sligo had to travel to London the week after winning the Division Four decider, while Wicklow played Carlow in the Leinster SFC the week after losing to the Yeats County in that Division Four league final.

Connacht Council have already confirmed their fixtures for 2024, with Galway travelling to face London on April 6th, while Mayo will be in New York on April 7th and on the same day Sligo are at home to Leitrim.

So, should any of those teams qualify for a league final next year then they would face a one week league-championship turnaround. It will be a similar scenario elsewhere as provincial championships throw-in a week after the end of the league.

The 2024 Allianz Football League will begin on the weekend of January 27th-28th. The opening evening of action on that Saturday will include Dessie Farrell’s Dublin facing Monaghan at Croke Park.

The finishing places in Division Two and Three of the league carry extra significance since the introduction of the Tailteann Cup. Clare and Limerick were relegated from Division Two in 2023 while Fermanagh and Cavan were promoted from Division Three.

Meanwhile, Joe O’Connor has returned to John Kiely’s Limerick senior hurling management team. O’Connor was strength and conditioning coach with Limerick in 2018 and 2019, and was also part of Clare’s Liam MacCarthy-winning set-up in 2013.

He has rejoined the Limerick management team, with the Treaty County also bringing in John Flavin – who previously worked alongside Kiely with the Limerick under-21 side. Caroline Currid has left the management team.

“John Flavin comes into the set up as coach and he will be joined by Joe O’Connor, who will return to the management team as high performance manager,” stated Limerick GAA.

“They will join John Kiely, Paul Kinnerk, Donal O’Grady, Aonghus O’Brien and Alan Cunningham to complete the management team for 2024.”

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times