The GAA’s fixtures chief 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, GAA director of player, club and games administration Feargal McGill this morning 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.”
As things stand, the GAA are hoping that they can run the competitions as planned. “The current situation is 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.”
McGill called for members and followers to be patient as the GAA assess their options. "We are going to have to be patient. People want to know what is coming next, but we have to take our time. The key is knowing what time we have available to us. Once we know that, we can start making some hard decisions.
“The next critical point for us is likely to be the weekend of April 19. We expect a Government announcement and we can start planning from then, whether to proceed from May 10 or to start looking at a revised championship structure.”
Counties will also be given two weeks to ready themselves collectively for the resumption of games. “We’d like to give teams a fortnight breathing space it at all possible before asking them to come back into competitive action,” continued McGill. “If we can get up and running by the middle of June, then I think we’ll be able to hold onto our All-Ireland final dates.”