Yesterday's Limerick against Waterford game in the Gaelic Grounds was postponed. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Called Off

GAA wait on hurling league re-fixtures as March schedule headache looms again

The CCCC will confirm new fixtures in the coming days after yesterday’s postponements in Limerick and Salthill.

AFTER STORM DENNIS ripped up the hurling league weekend fixture plans, the GAA’s CCCC will confirm their plans for re-fixtures in the coming days as they try to map out a new schedule for the 2020 competition.

The postponements yesterday for the games in Salthill and Limerick – for the second time over the weekend – have created a headache for GAA fixture-makers. There was no confirmation today of when Galway will face Tipperary or Limerick will take on Waterford in their Division 1 Group A re-fixtures.

It causes a difficulty for the top tier of the hurling league and could pave the way for a final double-header with the football showdown in late March, just like it did in 2019 when the meeting of Limerick and Waterford was the curtain-raiser for Mayo and Kerry.

With only one free weekend in the hurling league programme, and that break having already occurred on 8-9 February, the upcoming schedule is packed with Round 4 ties this weekend 22-23 February and Round 5 games pencilled in for 1 March. The quarter-finals are set for 7-8 March, semi-finals on 14-15 March and the final for 22 March but changes are inevitable now.

The Division 2A clash of Offaly against Antrim in Tullamore was postponed yesterday but with the round-robin games there concluding on Sunday 1 March before a final the following weekend, there is more room to push back fixtures.

It’s not a new occurrence for the GAA to have difficulties with the hurling league. In 2018 snow caused the postponement of the full set of quarter-finals with two taking place on the Monday of St Patrick’s weekend and the remaining pair going back a week. That year’s hurling league final saw Kilkenny meet Tipperary in early April.

Twelve months ago there were postponements to Round 5 fixtures in early March with waterlogged pitches ruling out ties in Páirc Uí Rinn, Walsh Park and Wexford Park.

Adverse weather conditions are something the GAA cannot influence but packing so many fixtures into a spring schedule leaves them with little room for manoeuvre. The worth of the quarter-finals have been raised in recent years and while they may bring in extra gate receipts, it’s debatable whether they are still required. In an era of round-robin provincial championship fare, the provision of more knockout games in the spring is brought into question.

For the third year running county hurling teams look set for a hectic March before the planned club month in April kicks in and if further postponements take place, there could be more issues for the national fixture-makers to contend with.

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