When the GAA unveiled their master fixtures plan for 2018, April was hailed as a “club only” month. The heavy snowfall of last week, however, means club hurlers now face uncertainty during the one month exclusively set aside for them.
The postponement of Allianz Hurling League games last weekend, owing to Storm Emma, has seen the Division 1 league final pushed back one week to Saturday, March 31.
With the league decider having initially been pencilled in for Saturday, March 24, Tipperary and Waterford had scheduled senior hurling championship games for the weekend of March 31/April 1. Those club fixtures are now up in the air until their respective counties exit the league.
In Tipperary, there’ll be significant tweaking of the local fixtures plan if Michael Ryan’s charges reach the league final for a second successive year. As it stands, the divisional hurling championships throw-in on the weekend of March 31/April 1; there are four games down for decision in the Mid Tipperary section and five in the North championship.
Should Tipp advance to the league’s concluding evening, those games will have to be accommodated elsewhere in an already packed April schedule.
Fixture-makers in the Premier County are hopeful of getting through one round of the county hurling and football championship in April, as well as finishing the various divisional hurling championships. Progression on the inter-county front would derail this plan.
In Waterford, the county SHC opening round is fixed for March 31/April 1, with the second round the following weekend (April 7/8).
A restructuring of the Waterford championship in the offseason saw the group-stage format change from two groups of six to three groups of four. The third round of group games is earmarked for the first weekend of July.
In essence, if Derek McGrath’s charges can stave off a relegation play-off this weekend and carve out a path to the league decider on March 31, then club hurlers in the county will likely play only one championship match across April, May, and June.
The recent postponement of inter-county games will not affect club hurling fixtures in Galway, Clare, Cork, and Limerick. All four senior hurling championships get under way from April 7 onwards.
On the football side, the GAA yesterday confirmed the Division 4 football final has been shoved back to the weekend of April 7/8. Laois currently sit at the head of the table but there would be no disruption to local fixtures were they to advance to the decider.
The Laois SFC first round throws in on the last weekend of July. Carlow, currently second in the Division 4 table, traditionally begin their senior football championship in July.
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