GAA set to unveil plan for 2021 season with inter-county February start and July All-Ireland finals

THE GAA LOOKS set to approve a condensed 2021 calendar which will see club and county activity continue next season amid the Covid-19 restrictions.

The Central Competitions Controls Committee (CCCC) put together the plan which is set to be approved by the GAA’s management committee next week.

The county season will begin with leagues near the end of February, with pre-season competitions scrapped and the All-Ireland finals taking place in mid-July.

A closed season will come into effect following today’s All-Ireland football decider, with an inter-county training ban in place until 15 January.

Club championships will run from July with provincial and All-Ireland series taking place until a mid-December cut-off point. 

The Allianz Football League are expected to begin on the weekend of 27/28 February. The divisions will each be split into two groups which are divided into regions to cut down on the travel involved.

Each county is guaranteed a minimum of four games and maximum of five, with the top two in each group contesting the league semi-finals and bottom two sides heading into a relegation semi-final. 

The hurling leagues will remain with two groups of six with the top side in each contesting the final. It will take place on the weekend of 10/11 April, a week after the football finals.

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April will no longer be cordoned off for clubs. A split-season model will be introduced with club championships taking place for the remainder of the year.

The All-Ireland hurling provincial championships will revert from round-robin to knock-out with a qualifier system returning for beaten sides. Relegation to the McDonagh Cup will be introduced. The two beaten Leinster quarter-final teams play a preliminary qualifier round, with the losers dropping to the McDonagh Cup and winners progressing to round 1 of the qualifiers.

The second tier Tailteann Cup is expected to still come into the All-Ireland football championship for sides in the bottom two tiers of the league who do not reach their provincial final. The final is fixed for the weekend of 26/27 June as a curtain raiser before the All-Ireland hurling semi-final.

Football’s Super 8s have been scrapped in favour of a return to knock-out quarter-finals. A qualifier system will apply in the football championship, with round 1 limited to Division 1 and 2 teams that do not make their provincial semi-finals.

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The All-Ireland football championship is expected to start on the weekend of 17/18 April, a week before the hurling begins.

It’s set to be recommended that provincial champions from the previous year remain in the Sam Maguire Cup the following season, irrespective of their league division. It would mean that Cavan and Tipperary are guaranteed Sam Maguire Cup places in 2021.

The GAA’s Fixture Review Task Force have recommended four proposals for a revamped All-Ireland football championship structure which will be voted on at Congress 2021, with a view to introducing it for the 2022 season.

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