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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 29 March, 2020

Leagues, Tailteann Cup and Super 8s under threat as GAA enters uncharted waters

The introduction of the Tier 2 All-Ireland could be pushed back to 2021 as part of a major revamp to the GAA season.

Dublin's Eoin Murchan and David Clifford of Kerry.
Dublin's Eoin Murchan and David Clifford of Kerry.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

THE GAA’S DECISION to shut down all activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic until 29 March (and potentially much longer) will have wide-ranging consequences for this season and beyond.

Not alone is the rest of the league under serious threat of being scrapped, but the Tailteann Cup and Super 8s could shelved too depending on when the country eventually gets back up and running.

Division 1 of the Allianz Hurling League is into the quarter-final stages, while finals and relegation playoffs are yet to be played in Division 2 and 3. The situation is more complicated in football, where two rounds of the league are still up for decision.

The GAA have yet to officially decide if these games will even be played. The club month in April gives the Association some wiggle room, but they are not thought to be keen on fixing county games during that period. 

And with the some experts in the UK warning that the virus may not peak over there for another 10 to 14 weeks, Ireland could be looking at a similar timeframe. 

We might be facing a very delayed start to the All-Ireland football and hurling championships. It makes the league being declared void the most likely scenario.

But for the first time this year the football league actually matters as it’s linked to the championship. The new Tier 2 All-Ireland – or Tailteann Cup as it’s been named – is due include teams relegated from Division 2. Teams promoted from Division 3 guarantee themselves a place in the Sam Maguire Cup.

There isn’t much room for manoeuvre in the championship schedule, so one obvious solution is to delay the introduction of the Tier 2 competition until 2021.

Replacing the Super 8s with knock-out quarter-finals another easy way of reducing the number of games required to complete this year’s football championship. Another option is to scrap the Super 8s, play the final two rounds of the league before the start of the championship and run off the provincials on a tighter schedule.

Or the leagues could be completed after the conclusion of the championship, but that’s unlikely due to the impact it would have on the club programme.

A return to knock-out hurling could be on the cards in the provincial championships.

Of course, it’s not out of question that the entire championship could be chalked off in a worst-case scenario.

There will be knock on effects for clubs all over the country. Club championships are unlikely to be played next month, while a later start to the inter-county championship means we could be well into October before club championships can get underway. 

The GAA have plenty of decisions to make over the coming weeks and months but like the rest of us, they’re waiting to see how this all plays out.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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