Munster Council will facilitate the counties who want to play their opening Munster Senior Hurling League or McGrath Cup fixture before Christmas.
The same as Limerick last year, All-Ireland champions Tipperary, who take flight for their team holiday in late December, are expected to play both of their Munster SHL group games, against Clare and Limerick, in the fortnight before Christmas.
The Kerry footballers are also heading away at the end of next month, but this will not necessitate pre-Christmas outings as their U20s, under the watch of new manager John Sugrue, will represent the county in the McGrath Cup. Kerry fielded an U21 side for their opening game of the 2017 McGrath Cup, the last occasion the county entered this pre-season competition.
Munster Council mentioned the weekend of December 28/29, Thursday, January 2, and the weekend of January 4/5 as possible dates to run off the three rounds of group games in either competition, but have left it to counties to discuss amongst themselves which dates work best for them. And if counties are agreeable to lining out before Christmas, Munster Council will not stand in their way. The respective finals are scheduled for January 11/12.
Munster Council hope to confirm the dates for the McGrath Cup and Munster SHL at their next meeting on Thursday, November 21. This is the first time since 2017 that all six Munster counties have decided to enter the McGrath Cup. Tipperary and Kerry were not involved for the last two years, while Limerick were marked absent in 2018.
A full complement of counties for 2020 offers proof of an appetite for pre-season competitions, according to Munster GAA communications manager Ed Donnelly.
“We are happy all six teams are taking part in the McGrath Cup. This is a competition Munster Council sets out to afford the counties an opportunity to have a pre-season competition in preparation for the national league. Obviously, the 12 inter-county managers in question feel there is a benefit to doing that.
“Six teams in either competition allows us to have two groups of three, guaranteeing counties a home game in either code. When there are only four teams, it makes it more difficult from an organisational perspective. I know there is criticism out there regarding pre-season competitions. The feedback we are getting is counties would prefer organised and competitive matches, as opposed to going out looking for challenges.”
McGrath Cup Group A: Limerick, Clare, Waterford; Group B: Cork, Kerry, Tipperary.
Munster SHL Group A: Clare, Limerick, Tipperary; Group B: Cork, Kerry, Waterford.