Your county-by-county guide to how the coronavirus may affect club championships

Up to 18 counties may have to restructure their club championships if the blanket ban on GAA activity extends into April, writes Eoghan Cormican.

Your county-by-county guide to how the coronavirus may affect club championships

Up to 18 counties may have to restructure their club championships if the blanket ban on GAA activity extends into April.

Nine counties, at the time of writing, have club championship games fixed for April, but club programmes nationwide are set to be thrown into disarray given the unlikelihood of the ban being lifted on March 30.

Galway was the first county to act when postponing all hurling championship games - senior, intermediate, and minor - fixed for the first week of April. Round 2 of their hurling championship, however, remains scheduled for April 18/19.

Limerick and Dublin have since gone a step further, both announcing the postponement of all club games fixed for April.

All three are dual counties and so utilising the April club window is imperative in having county champions crowned in time for the provincial club competitions in October and early November.

Officials in these counties accept that a restructuring of their club championships is inevitable if provincial deadlines are not pushed back.

Cork, Kerry, Tipperary, Waterford, Offaly, Kildare, Westmeath, and Wexford have yet to make a call on whether or not to suspend part or all of their April club championship schedule. The decision, in time, may well be taken out of their hands.

Kilkenny, who are not one of the nine counties intending to play championship next month, have two rounds of league fare fixed for April, the results of which dictate a team’s entry point into the county championship later on in the year.

Although no Ulster county begins their club championship during April, in six counties is promotion and relegation in the championship tied to league placings. The postponement of league games next month would trigger a similar restructuring to that facing Limerick and Dublin.

“Listening to all the commentators, this period of restricted activity will probably extend into April. We wanted to give certainty to clubs as to where they stand,” said Limerick secretary Mike O’Riordan of their decision to postpone all April games.

"By making the call now, you are also discouraging any team from getting together. We will consult with all clubs before making any decision on the redesign or restructure of the championships.”

On the inter-county front, former GAA President Sean Kelly reckons 'doomsday' talk about the All-Ireland championships being affected by the Covid-19 crisis is premature.

"If we contain this and the numbers start going down, then the amount of people that would be infecting others would be reduced. In that scenario, this situation could finish quicker than people expect," said Kelly.

CONNACHT

Galway

Opening round of the county hurling championship, initially scheduled for April 4/5, has been pulled. Round 2 remains fixed for April 18/19.

Leitrim

Football championship doesn’t begin until July, at the earliest. League games earmarked for April.

Mayo

First round of league action, scheduled for March 28, has been hit by the ban. Rounds 2-5 are to be run off across the four weekends in April. Championship throws-in at the beginning of September.

Roscommon

Football championship doesn’t throw-in until county team is knocked out of the race for Sam Maguire. League fixtures scheduled for the first three weekends of April.

Sligo

League games scheduled for each of the four weekends in April, with county players available for all four rounds. No championship until July.

LEINSTER

Carlow

Plenty of league action pencilled in for April. No championship until July.

Dublin

Opening two rounds of both the hurling and football championship have been postponed.

Kildare

The draw for the various Kildare football championships was supposed to go ahead yesterday but was postponed in light of the current coronavirus pandemic. This is likely to have a knock-on effect as the preliminary round of the senior football championship was provisionally earmarked for the final weekend in April.

Kilkenny

League games pencilled in for the first and third weekends of April. Results here dictate a team’s entry point into the championship later on in the year. The teams who lose in April will have a longer route to the county final than those who taste victory next month.

Laois

Three rounds of league football and two rounds of league hurling fixed for April. No championship until later in the season.

Longford

Longford waits until later in the season to begin its county football championship.

Louth

Four rounds of league action down for decision in April. Championship commences following Louth’s departure from All-Ireland race.

Meath

This is the first year where the Meath county board are not utilising April to begin their county football championships. Senior football championship begins in August. Hurling championship throws-in the last weekend of June.

Offaly

Rounds 1 and 2 of the hurling championship are fixed for April 4/5 and 18/19.

Westmeath

Opening round of hurling and football championships fixed for next month. Round 1 of the hurling championship is due to be played on April 4/5, April 18/19 for football.

Wexford

Two rounds of hurling championship and two rounds of football championship in the diary for next month.

Wicklow

County football championship doesn’t begin until July. April to be filled with league games.

MUNSTER

Clare

The sole county in Munster which does not begin its club championship, in either code, during the April club window, opting instead to wait until August. Three rounds of hurling and football league games have been scheduled for April, mind.

Cork

One round of football championship, spread across the weekends of April 4/5 and 11/12, and one round of hurling championship, spread across the weekends of April 18/19 and 25/26.

Kerry

Every weekend in April is being utilised to run off the senior club football championship (a separate competition to the county senior championship), as well as the county intermediate and junior football championships. The finals of the latter two competitions are fixed for the May Bank Holiday weekend.

Limerick

Two rounds of the hurling and football championship scheduled for April have been postponed.

Tipperary

The plan was for the first round of the county football championship to throw-in on the final weekend of this month, alongside a round of games in the respective divisional senior and intermediate hurling championships for clubs without a football team. These games, of course, won’t happen given the ban on GAA activity runs until March 30. Further divisional hurling championship action is earmarked for the opening two weekends of April.

Waterford

Round 1 of the hurling championship, fixed for the final weekend of March, has fallen by the wayside. Round 2 is scheduled for the opening weekend of April. Rounds 1 and 2 of the football championship to be played on the weekend of April 11/12, and Friday and Saturday, April 17 and 18.

ULSTER

Antrim

Football league was due to begin on March 29, with four further rounds to be run off during April Hurling league commences on April 19. Championship grading determined by league placing.

Armagh

Championship typically has an August start. But relegation from the senior championship, as well as promotion from intermediate to senior, is linked to league placings.

Cavan

First round of championship is pencilled in for July 24/25/26. League was due to begin on March 28. That first round of the league won’t now go ahead as scheduled. League games are fixed for every weekend in April.

Derry

No championship until much later in the season, but league games are important as promotion/relegation in the championship is tied to league placings.

Down

Four rounds of league football pencilled in for April. Relegation from the county senior championship is determined by league placings.

Donegal

First round of the league has bitten the dust as it was fixed for March 29. Every weekend in April is taken up with league action. Championship throws-in far side of summer.

Fermanagh

April flooded with league games. No championship until mid-August.

Monaghan

League is tied to the championship as the two bottom-placed teams in the senior football league are relegated to intermediate for the following season.

Tyrone

League fare in April carries weight as promotion and relegation in the championship is tied to final league placings.

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