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GAA target potential mid-June return and hurling likely to move to knockout format

The Connacht clash of London and Roscommon on 3 May has been cancelled.

Tipperary's Seamus Callanan and Limerick's Richie English in action in last year's Munster final.
Tipperary's Seamus Callanan and Limerick's Richie English in action in last year's Munster final.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

THE GAA HAVE pinpointed mid-June as a potential start date for this season’s championships and indicated the Munster and Leinster hurling championship will revert to a knockout format this season as a shutdown of activity continues due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Head of Games Administration Feargal McGill, speaking today on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, revealed that the Connacht clash of London and Roscommon, scheduled for 3 May, has been cancelled.

He stated that there are no changes yet to their current championship structures but admitted it is ‘unlikely’ that the action will commence with the marquee fixtures planned for the weekend of 9-10 May.

No decision has been yet made on the completion of the 2020 football and hurling leagues with the GAA set to wait to see if the Government extends the suspension of all sport in the country, which is currently set to last until 19 April.

And the GAA are still committed to their current All-Ireland final dates if they can get games commenced again by that middle weekend in June.

“The current situation is that there’s no changes to any of our championship structures to date. We’re due to start on May 10th, which is well outside the April 19th flag that the Government have planted if you like so that’s still a possibility as a start date and when that’s a possibility we can’t really look at changing championship structures but I do have to concede it seems unlikely we’ll be back playing by then.

“The London and Roscommon game was scheduled for May 3rd, we have taken the decision now to cancel that game. That has to do with the number of Roscommon people who had planned to travel to the game and who had flight and accommodation arrangements made.

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enda-smith-lifts-the-nestor-cup Roscommon captain Enda Smith lifts the Nestor Cup last summer. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

“We’d like to give teams a fortnight breathing space it at all possible before asking them to come back into competitive action. If we can get up and running by the middle of June, then I think we’ll be able to hold onto our All-Ireland final dates. We’d probably have to look at straight knockout provincial championships in football and hurling but potentially with a backdoor as well.

“We would probably do everything in our power to keep the All-Ireland finals where they are currently scheduled so the hurling final is scheduled for the 16th of August and the football final for the 30th of August. I would imagine as long as we get back on the playing fields or as long as we can start our inter-county championships before the middle of June, then we should be able to retain those dates.”

McGill believes it will be only possible for the GAA to plan properly when they know how much time they have to run off the season.

“We’re just going to have to be patient here and take our time. I know it’s hard on people and people want to know what’s coming next. They key for us is to know what time will be available to us. Once we know that, we can start making the hard decisions.

“The next critical point for us is likely to be on the week of April 19th, we’d assume the Government will make some kind of announcement that week whether it’s that we’re going to continue in this restricted situation or there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. It’s that week we’ll be able to start planning. here’s so much uncertainty at the moment, it’s really difficult to speculate and probably not all that helpful to speculate at this stage.

“We don’t just have the inter-county  championships and leagues to consider, we have the club situation to consider in the 32 counties as well, they have to be allowed enough time to complete their competitions also. It’s a little bit more complicated for us I guess than for other sports.”

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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