Double-headers and late evening throw-ins off the cards for this year’s Allianz Leagues
Full league fixtures for football and hurling will be released next week
Limerick and Tipperary will meet on the opening weekend of the Allianz Hurling League at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday, May 8th. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Double-headers and late evening games are off the table as the GAA await some further details before confirming the exact schedule of upcoming Allianz Leagues in the face of the continuing restrictions around Covid-19.
As agreed last week, the much delayed intercounty season will begin with the Allianz Hurling Leagues on May 8th/9th, three weeks after the permitted return to intercounty training next Monday, as was agreed by the principal competing counties.
There will be no Division 1 hurling final and there will be either joint winners for 2021, or if the teams that win Division 1A and Division 1B meet in the championship, this will double as a league final.
The Allianz Football League and Division 3 of the hurling league commence a week later on May 15th/16th. The entire league season will finish on the weekend of June 19th/20th with the football finals. All challenge games are also off the table.
While a draft list of fixtures has been sent to all counties for full consideration, it will be next week before the GAA releases that exact schedule of games. What is certain is that popular double-header won’t be a feature this season in order to minimise the risks around Covid-19, while late evening games are also set to be avoided where possible.
It was also agreed to further await the outcome of the draws for the 2021 provincial football and hurling championships, which will be spread over two days, next Monday and Tuesday. The Munster football and hurling draws will take place on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland show on Monday, April 19th at 7.30am and 8.30am respectively. Then, later that same day, the Connacht football draw will be televised on the Six One News.
The Leinster football and hurling draws take place on Morning Ireland on Tuesday, April 20th, at 7.30am and 8.30am respectively, while the Ulster football draw will take place later that evening on the Six One News. TV coverage of the league will be split between broadcast partners Eir and TG4, with RTÉ having the rights to a Sunday highlights package, although the GAA has already ruled out counties streaming their own games,
The football league has already rationalised its structures with each of the four divisions broken into two smaller pools of four, arranged for geographical proximity, allowing for three games each. The bottom two counties in each pool will play out relegation semi-finals with the two losers demoted. The top two counties in each pool will play off in divisional semi-finals with the finals scheduled for June 19th and 20th – dependent on the two finalists not having a championship match the following week, in which case the title will be shared.
The hurling league’s big difference from last year in that it was mostly completed before the 2020 lockdown. This year’s competition guarantees five matches, based on the current Division 1A and 1B, with the top counties in both sharing the league title unless they meet at some point in the championship, which will then double as the league final – as was the case last year with Clare and Limerick.
The hurling league relegation playoff between the bottom teams in Divisions 1A and 1B will be played as a curtain raiser to one of the All-Ireland senior semi-finals in August. This is to prevent any congestion in the championship.
The headline game on the opening weekend will see Limerick clash with Tipperary in Limerick on Saturday, May 8th.
Dublin and Cork will have no home games in the football league, as a consequence of their Covid-19 training breaches: Dublin’s only home game in Division 1 South, against Kerry, will now be played at a neutral venue, most likely Portlaoise on May 23rd. Roscommon will host Dublin for their opening game (May 16th), Dublin then heading to Galway for their last game on May 30th, that also already confirmed for Pearse Stadium at 3.45pm.
Galway have also confirmed their hurling league schedule, which will begin on Saturday, May 8th away to Westmeath, and conclude on Sunday, June 13th away to Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh (1.45pm).