Terry Hyland calls for the League to be declared null and void

Terry Hyland calls for the League to be declared null and void
Leitrim manager Terry Hyland says the two additional weekends created by scrapping the League should not be used to bring forward the start date of the Championship and therefore guarantee counties a second chance, but rather to allow counties sufficiently ready themselves for their opening Championship bow. Photo: INPHO/Evan Logan

Leitrim football manager Terry Hyland has called for the 2020 Allianz League to be declared null and void.

Leitrim currently sit seventh in Division 3, equal on points with Tipperary who are one spot above the relegation zone on account of their superior score difference.

If the League is completed in mid-to-late October, the clash of the two counties in the final round will likely determine who drops to Division 4 for the 2021 season.

County championship semi-finals in Leitrim have been fixed for September 12/13, the same weekend inter-county panels are permitted to resume collective training. And with the Leitrim senior and intermediate finals pencilled in for September 26/27, Hyland said he will only have his full squad together for three weeks before the likely recommencement of the League.

He wants the 2020 edition of the competition declared null and void on account of the excessive workload that will be thrown at players from July through to October. He also sees it as unfair that certain counties will have a greater period of time to prepare for the League than others.

Save for an open draw, Leitrim will meet Mayo in the first round of the Connacht Championship later this year. Hyland said the two additional weekends created by scrapping the League should not be used to bring forward the start date of the Championship and therefore guarantee counties a second chance, but rather to allow counties sufficiently ready themselves for their opening Championship bow.

If the League is run off in October and the All-Ireland final fixed for mid-December, the requisite number of weekends will not be there to afford counties a minimum of two Championship outings.

“I know people will say, it suits Terry Hyland to have the League declared null and void, but I would cancel it. It won't work in the timeframe they are likely to put it in," insisted the Leitrim boss.

“Declaring the League null and void would give us five weeks with all of our players ahead of Championship. As it stands, we will be going into the League three weeks after finishing county championships.

For 80% of counties, the League doesn't make any difference to them at this stage, but for the other 20%, it means an awful lot because some are fighting for promotion and others are trying to stave off relegation. And yet, most county championships won't finish until the end of September or early October.

“For 26 counties, the League, in an ordinary year, probably means more to them than the All-Ireland series because it is the only place where they are going to feature, play against their equals, and, hopefully, survive, get promoted, or gain off the back of it, whereas the All-Ireland series falls back down on six or eight counties at the end of the day."

Hyland questioned whether a county's 2021 League status should be decided by two games directly following a period of club activity where some players will have played seven games across 10 weekends.

“We are going to overload players. I guarantee you that over 50% of my squad will be involved in the Leitrim county finals at the end of September. Add on two or three guys who pick up injuries during the county championship and you could be looking at anything up to 60% of the panel who you’d only be getting your hands on two to three weeks before an important League match."

He concluded: "Sometimes in the GAA, we have to say we finished all our competitions, but we must remember, it is 100 years since we have had a pandemic and all those things must be taken into consideration."

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