GAA not abandoning hope on completing leagues

GAA not abandoning hope on completing leagues
Cathail O’Mahony of Cork in action against Tipperary’s Alan Campbell last month at Semple Stadium. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The GAA remain intent on completing the 2020 Allianz Leagues but accept only a proportion of the games might be played if any at all.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, GAA director of club, player and games administration Feargal McGill said there is a determination to conclude the football divisions so as to confirm finalised positions for 2021.

That means Cork, who are on the cusp of promotion from Division 3, may yet go up. Staging the finals would not be considered a necessity but playing off enough matches so that the six promotion and six relegation positions are filled is. As of now, no county has been promoted while Meath from Division 1 and Louth from Division 3 are the only teams confirmed as relegated.

“We intend completing the league if we can. It is far from abandoned but we just don’t know at the moment,” said McGill. “We don’t know what time we will have so it’s a case of waiting and seeing. It has to be stressed that no hard decisions have been made about the league.

“If we were to look at it on the basis of priorities, priority would be given to the outstanding games in the football league, that is round six and round seven, because of the obvious knock-on effect from next January. It’s very difficult to speculate but we will try and play those games if we have the time.”

McGill acknowledged it is unlikely the remaining five games in hurling’s Division 1 — the Kilkenny-Waterford and Wexford-Galway quarter-finals, the semi-finals involving Clare and Limerick and the final — will be played.

However, with Antrim and Kerry waiting to face off to replace Carlow in the top flight and two other hurling finals yet to be played to determine promotion there remain pressing matters.

“I would say it’s probably going to be a challenge to complete the hurling league,” admitted McGill. “Again talking about priorities, if there are ones there it’s the divisional finals — 2A, 2B, 3B (the 3A decider has already been played).”

McGill would not be drawn on the possibility of the league being completed later in the year after the Championship. “I’m not going to speculate on that. We’re very conscious that the clubs as well as the counties have competitions they want to start and finish and we have to ensure they have enough time to do that.”

Meanwhile, McGill has suggested senior provincial hurling championships could revert to a knock-out structure with a second chance in the qualifiers as a result of the coronavirus lay-off. Confirming the Roscommon-London Connacht SFC quarter-final was the second in the province to be called off, McGill said there are as yet no proposed changes to the Championship.

He added that if the competition can commence by mid June there won’t be any changes to the All-Ireland final dates in August. However, he conceded meeting the May 10 start date for the provincial competitions was unlikely and there may have to be alterations made to the format of the Championship, in particular the round-robin provincial hurling structures and abandoning the Super 8 structure in football.

“We would probably do everything in our power to keep the All-Ireland finals where they are currently scheduled,” McGill told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“So the hurling final is scheduled for August 16 and the football final is scheduled for August 30.

“I would imagine that as long as we get back on the playing field or we can start our inter-county championships before the middle of June then we should be able to retain those dates. We’d probably have to look at straight knock-out provincial championships in both football and hurling, but, potentially with a back-door as well.”

“The current situation is that there are no changes to any of our championship structures,” confirmed McGill.

“They are due to start on May 10, which is well outside the April 19 date that the Government has flagged, so that’s still a possibility at this point.

“When that’s a possibility, we can’t really change championship structures, but I do have to concede it seems unlikely we will be back playing by then.”

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