Championship 2019 set to be the same but will the winner change?
Draw for next year's All-Ireland SFC takes place on Thursday and Dublin are favourites
Dublin celebrate lifting the Sam Maguire after beating Tyrone in Croke Park in September. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Here we go again. Whatever about the end result, almost everything about the format of Championship 2019 will be the same as the one just finished. Don’t rule out at least one end result either. Dublin are already 1/2 odds on favourites to win an unprecedented fifth successive senior All-Ireland football, and will on Thursday find out where that quest begins when the 2019 draw takes place live from Studio 4 in RTÉ (8.30pm).
After the major shake-up for Championship 2018 – the addition of the Super-8s in football, a round-robin hurling championship in Leinster and Munster – the battle lines are already drawn.
In Leinster football, as with recent years, the four semi-finalists from 2018 – Dublin, Laois, Carlow and Longford – go straight into the quarter-finals: an open draw will decide the three first-round games, one county also getting a bye into the quarter-final.
It means Meath, Kildare and Westmeath are all potential opening opposition for Dublin, seeking a ninth straight provincial title, the one consolation being the likely entitlement to a home venue as the Leinster Council have agreed the last three years that Dublin be taken out of Croke Park until the semi-final stage.
In the Connacht football championship it’s Mayo’s turn for the trip to New York, and likewise Galway’s turn to play London in the first two quarter-finals. Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo will be drawn against each other for a third quarter-final, with an open draw for the semi-finals (with one team getting a bye).
Ulster football again follows a straight open draw, the first two teams drawn in the preliminary round, etc. All dates and venues will then be decided by the provincial councils over the coming weeks.
Like Championship 2018, there is no longer any need for a hurling draw. Munster have already agreed their schedule of round-robin games, adding an extra week to ensure no team has to play four weekends in succession; Tipperary and Waterford, the two sides who didn’t have a rest week this summer, failed to progress, and for 2019 things start on May 12th to allow a break weekend, and finish on June 16th. It’s not yet announced whether that break will be the weekend of May 26th or June 2nd.
There will also be an extra week in the Leinster round-robin hurling, their schedule of games also announced, only instead of a complete break one game will played on the weekend of May 26th (Galway v Wexford), and another on June 2nd (Carlow v Dublin). Carlow were promoted into 2018 as winners of the new Joe McDonagh Cup, replacing bottom-placed Offaly, a similar promotion/relegation arrangement in place for 2019.
The Super-8 football round will also follow a similar format, only with a rotation in the Ulster/Leinster and Connacht/Munster pairing in the two groups: as per rule the opening round of games will again be fixed for Croke Park unless a fresh rule change is brought about at Congress 2019.
Also agreed in advance are the All-Ireland final dates for 2019, the hurling final set for Sunday, August 18th, and the football final for Sunday, September 1st. The Central Competitions Control Committee agreed on a new phrasing of a weekend number, agreeing the final should be played by the 35th Sunday of the year rather than the “last” Sunday in August, to clear up any confusion.
2019 Munster Hurling Championship fixtures
Round 1 - weekend May 12th
Cork v Tipperary
Waterford v Clare
Round 2 - weekend May 19th
Limerick v Cork
Tipperary v Waterford
Round 3 - weekend May 26th, or weekend June 2nd
Waterford v Limerick
Clare v Tipperary
Round 4 - weekend June 9th
Limerick v Clare
Cork v Waterford
Round 5 - weekend June 16th
Clare v Cork
Tipperary v Limerick
Leinster fixtures: May 11th / 12th Galway v Carlow; Kilkenny v Dublin:
May 18th / 19th Carlow v Kilkenny; Dublin v Wexford:
May 25th / 26th Galway v Wexford;
June 1st / 2nd Carlow v Dublin;
June 8th / 9th Wexford v Carlow, Kilkenny v Galway:
June 15th / 16th Wexford v Kilkenny; Dublin v Galway.