It will be a case of going back to 2017 this evening when the Munster and Leinster senior hurling championship draws take place on RTÉ’s Six One News.
It follows the decision by the GAA management committee to sign off on the Central Competition Control Committee’s (CCCC) inter-county season plan yesterday evening. The revised calendar will be released to the media in Croke Park this morning.
With several counties waiting to learn their fate before finalising their own club championship fixtures, the councils will waste no time in revealing the schedules of their premier competitions, which are set to commence in late October.
Due to time constraints, hurling’s round-robin format has been jettisoned this year. The two competitions will therefore revert to the knockout system largely based on what was the norm prior to 2018.
In Munster, that means the first three names out of the bowl will qualify for the semi-finals, with the remaining two pitted against one another for the remaining spot. Before 2018, Cork had been drawn in the first round of the Munster SHC in three of the four previous seasons, winning two of them.
As the Irish Examiner reported yesterday, the Leinster SHC is to be seeded, with last year’s finalists Kilkenny and winners Wexford to be handed semi-final byes with one of Dublin, Galway, and Laois to be drawn with them in the last four. Their semi-finals are pencilled in for the weekend of November 7/8, and it has been reported that they can face each other in the last four.
A qualifier system will be in place for those non-provincial winners, therefore, guaranteeing each team a minimum of two matches. As per usual, the two provincial winners are set to be rewarded with separate All-Ireland semi-finals where they will face the quarter-final winners, which see the provincial runners-up taking on the counties who have come through the qualifiers.
The CCCC are expected to confirm that the All-Ireland provincial-based SFC will be a straight knockout, as was last the case in 1999. The existing draw will remain, meaning the losers of the Cork-Kerry Munster semi-final and Donegal-Tyrone Ulster quarter-final will be dumped out of the Championship entirely. It will also be revealed if the Munster and Leinster champions will face one side of the All-Ireland SFC draw, as was to be the case this year.