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Dublin: 5°C Monday 21 September 2020
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What impact will GAA shutdown have on Kildare, Laois and Offaly club schedules?

Action in the three counties was brought to a halt last Friday.

Kildare SFC side Moorefield and Laois SHC team Rathdowney-Errill are amongst the clubs affected.
Kildare SFC side Moorefield and Laois SHC team Rathdowney-Errill are amongst the clubs affected.
Image: INPHO

FRIDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT THAT regional restrictions were being implemented in Kildare, Offaly and Laois due to an increase of Covid-19 cases, had an obvious knock-on effect on GAA schedules in those counties.

The weekend just gone had been planned to be utilised for senior football championship games in Offaly and Laois along with various other grades.

The GAA have confirmed a shutdown of all activities in the three counties with the current restrictions in place until at least midnight on Friday 21 August.

What does it mean for the club competitions in all the counties and how will now have to adapt to a major change in their programme of activity?

We’ve taken a look at the GAA situation in Kildare, Laois and Offaly.

What stage were the senior championships at?

As an example of the club activity impacted, let’s take a look at the senior format. In Offaly the SFC and SHC was comprised of two groups of four with each team getting three games in the round-robin series. A round of senior games had been played already in both codes.

In Laois the SFC was due to commence last weekend with three rounds before the end of August and then the knockout stages would kick into gear with the quarter-finals taking place. The opening round of the SHC had been played with two more rounds of games due to be held before semi-finals and then the final. The dual situation complicates matters further in Laois.

The first round of the Kildare SFC was also held on the August Bank Holiday weekend but the second round was called off last weekend. There are four groups of four with two teams advancing from each group to the quarter-finals and relegation semi-finals are also in play.

Then the SHC has eight teams in action with two groups of four and then semi-finals taking place. That was due to start last weekend.

When are the county finals pencilled in for?

The Offaly football decider is the first one pencilled in for Sunday 20 September. Then the weekend of 26-27 September was planned for the finals of Offaly SHC, Laois SHC and Kildare SFC. The remaining deciders scheduled then are Kildare SHC on 3/4 October and Laois SFC on 4/5 October.

In the best case scenario if the green light was given for restrictions to be lifted from Friday 21 August, would clubs be happy to play that Saturday and Sunday as they were not permitted to train collectively until then?

If the counties stick to their final dates, then from 21 August there would be four weeks left to completed the Offaly SFC, five weeks for the Offaly SHC, Laois SHC and Kildare SFC, and then six weeks for the Kildare SHC and Laois SFC.

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Not to mention the fixtures headache for county boards will all the other grades to be factored into the equation.

a-general-view-of-oconnor-park-ahead-of-the-game O'Connor Park in Tullamore is Offaly's main county ground Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

When are their county teams back in action?

Football

There are two rounds of the league left to play. Kildare and Laois are 7th and 5th respectively in a congested Division 2, both still in with a shout of promotion and not safe from relegation either. Offaly are 5th in Division 3 but also retain hopes of going up. On the weekend of 17-18 October, Kildare are to face Cavan, Laois take on Westmeath and Offaly will play Tipperary.

Then on the weekend of 24-25 October, Kildare v Westmeath, Laois v Fermanagh and Offaly v Derry are the fixtures scheduled. In the Leinster championship then, Offaly are to play Carlow in Round 1 on 31 October/1 November while the following weekend it is planned for quarter-final ties with Laois facing Louth/Longford and Kildare taking on Carlow/Offaly.

Hurling

With the league having been completed, the focus turns to championship matters. Eddie Brennan’s Laois side are due to play Dublin in the Leinster quarter-final on 24-25 October, while that same weekend sees a Christy Ring Cup quarter-final between David Herity’s Kildare team and Michael Fennelly’s Offaly outfit.

In all three counties there is little room for manoeuvre in their fixture planning.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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