GAA begin process of finalising league and championship dates

Intercounty window originally set to last 20 weeks now likely to be squeezed into 15

Dublin celebrate their six in a row last December: competitive action this year should begin on either the weekend of May 15th/16th, or the weekend of May 22nd/23rd. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

With April 19th as their starting point, the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) has begun the process of putting forward preferred league and championship dates for the remainder of 2021.

Central to that process is whether or not to resume competitive action on the weekend of May 15th/16th, which would be two days shy of the recommended four-week preparation window for teams, or to wait until the weekend of May 22nd/23rd.

“That process has begun, but it will be the end of next before we’re in a position to make those dates known,” said the GAA’s director of player, club, and games administration, Feargal McGill, who also confirmed the directive to the Six Counties in Northern Ireland that their ban on collective training also remains in place until April 19th.

When last December the GAA first announced the master fixture plan of their then streamlined and entirely split season for 2021, the intercounty league and championship was set to take place before the exclusive club window opens, with a return of the All-Ireland club finals in January of 2022.

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The original club window was set to start from July 25th, with county championships expected to conclude by October 24th, but that date now looks unlikely. Provincial club championships were also originally set to run from October 16th to November 28th, with the All-Ireland semi-finals in December followed by the finals in January of 2022

In the league, to be played on a regional basis (north and south in each division, etc) each team is still set to have three rounds of games, the top two in each divisional group qualifying for the semi-finals, possibly concluding by the second weekend in June. The bottom two in each divisional quartet would go into relegation semi-finals, where the losers of each are relegated.

In all, that intercounty window was originally set to last 20 weeks, and is now likely to be squeezed into 15 weeks, the championship window itself looking like being eight or nine weeks.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics