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GAA split season with July All-Ireland finals coming by 2022 if passed by Congress

It has also been proposed that pre-season competitions are scrapped and no inter-county training can take place before 1 January.

A general view of Croke Park.
A general view of Croke Park.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

THE GAA HAVE moved a step closer to introducing a split season between club and county after the release of the Fixtures Calendar Review Task Force’s updated report today. 

The task force have recommended that inter-county competitions take place first in the year, leading to the All-Ireland finals taking place “no later than” mid-July. The club championships would then run-off.

The split-season model will be put to county boards for feedback before recommendations will be finalised by Central Council in December, with a view to voting on its introduction at Congress 2021. It would then come into play for the 2022 season.

Though the task force rejected the idea of a split season in their initial report last December, the report stated that “the positive experience for clubs of the ‘split season’ foisted on the GAA during 2020 has meant that this needed to be re-evaluated.”

It would also see pre-season competitions abandoned with no inter-county training permitted to take place before 1 January.

Two proposals for the revamped All-Ireland football championship have been tweaked in the new document. Four proposals have already been released by the task force, but two of them have been adjusted:

  • Option 1: Involves rebalancing the provinces so each contains eight teams, with two groups of four. Counties would be moved from Ulster and Leinster to make up the numbers in the other two provinces. This would be achieved by sending the bottom three teams in Leinster and bottom side in Ulster (based on final league places) into Connacht and Munster. Or playoffs would take place between the bottom six in Leinster and bottom two in Ulster (again based on league standings) to determine which four have to move.
  • Option 2: Sees the leagues moved to the summer months and provincials take place in the spring. Final league standings would decide which sides enter the Sam Maguire and Tailteann Cup competitions. The revised format seems the top five Division 1 teams, top three Division 2 plus Division 3 and 4 winners entering the top tier, with the rest in the second tier.

The other options for the All-Ireland SFC from the original report involve the 2019 structure and the 2017 format (the last year before the Super 8s). Both would include the Tailteann Cup which was ratified last year but didn’t come into play in 2020 due to Covid-19.

New York will now enter a 15-team Tailteann Cup in all options.

The GAA have decided to retain the U17 inter-county age grade, while the task force recommending that a separate group is assigned to decide whether the U20 should be retained or moved to U19.

The task force will also bring a motion to Congress proposing that the All-Ireland U20 hurling semi-finals are discontinued as “the back door for beaten provincial finalists is not serving any great purpose” and their removal would increase time for club activity.

In addition, it’s proposed that eligibility for U20 hurling will be restricted to those who have not played in the senior hurling championship. 

Finally, a motion will also be brought to Congress that senior and intermediate club championships can consist of a maximum of 16 teams. Counties would be provided with a two-year lead in to adjust numbers across the grades.

The42 GAA Weekly is here! Join hosts Shane Dowling and Marc Ó Sé as they preview Tipperary v Limerick, Donegal v Tyrone, and the rest of the weekend’s action:


Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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