Several county boards are preparing to finish up their championships in late September to give more time to their county teams.
Galway, Kerry and Wexford are among a number of counties looking at concluding competitions two weeks ahead of the club window elapsing on October 11 and three ahead of the inter-county resumption date of October 17.
Kerry’s competitions control committee met Tuesday night where they confirmed the club championships is to be played as before on a group format but the county football championship will run on a knock-out basis with the plan to conclude in September.
Between football and hurling, Wexford are considering a nine-week senior club championship schedule. Clubs would be guaranteed at least two games and the finals could take place the weekend of September 26 and 27. The Galway hurling committee, meanwhile, are looking at giving each club a minimum of three games and also finishing up that weekend.
With counties officially permitted to return to collective training from September 14, providing such a run-in to the county panels is considered fair by Galway, Kerry and Wexford officials.
As well as cancelling relegation for 2020 and suspensions hanging over from last season, Wexford chairman Derek Kent explained the board want to give their senior managers Davy Fitzgerald and Paul Galvin sufficient time to prepare their teams for the postponed inter-county championships.
Ahead of discussing championship plans with Wexford clubs on Wednesday, Kent said: “We invest so much time, energy and money into our inter-county teams preparing for the All-Irelands that we certainly need to give them a minimum of two weeks to prepare for their matches. What I have is a balancing act between county and club and it’s not an easy one to do.”
Galway are also keen space to Shane O’Neill’s senior hurlers. “We want to give Shane and the lads optimum time,” stated county hurling committee chairman Paul Bellew. “We might even be going later with championship than most and that would be my fear. Having said that, I don’t think there is hesitation from the GAA to push the inter-county out to January.”
Wexford have proposed a number of stipulations to reflect the unprecedented nature of this year’s club season. “The proposals were sent out to clubs a couple of weeks ago, I believe they are the best we can do in the timeframe we have,” insisted Kent, who confirmed competitions such as the junior championships will continue into October. “If things change and we get another week or two then we can do better.
“We won’t have relegation in our championships this year for the simple reason that it’s unfair to any club who have fought for their status for years and then to lose it because some of the players weren’t able to play because of the coronavirus. It would be wrong to force clubs into that.
“The second thing we hope to do is cancel some of the suspensions that were to come into effect this year from 2019. It wouldn’t be fair if a club is guaranteed one or two games. We want to look at those and to be fair to Croke Park they have a mechanism to support that idea.
“We also hope to have all the games played in four venues and the county board to take responsibility for those four venues as regards sanitisation and the safe keeping of our patrons and players. There will be cash-only counters but we will promote weekend tickets through local shops and through a style that is credit card payments.”
Although it is in a truncated timeframe, Galway want to make the championship worthwhile for their clubs. “We’re meeting the clubs next Tuesday,” confirmed Bellew. “Our current format is out the window because it’s a 10-week programme and we will be running a revised fixtures list probably taking around seven weekends to complete and aiming to start the August Bank Holiday weekend.
“We have a commitment in Galway that we will give clubs three games - they’re entitled to that. When you have two games, you could start on a Sunday and be out of the competition on the following Saturday. That’s not going to fly in Galway and something we have no interest in either.”