Ireland’s Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has today, April 8, published its revised Master Fixtures Calendar for 2021.
The inter-county season will run from the weekend of May 8 / 9 with the start of the Allianz Hurling League, to the weekend of August 28 / 29 when the All-Ireland Football Final will be played. The Provincial Football and Hurling championships will commence on the weekend of June 26 / 27.
The County and Provincial Club Championships will be played in the months of September, October, November, and December with the All-Ireland Club Finals scheduled for February 2022. Club championships can begin once the county has been eliminated from the championship.
The entire inter-county fixtures programme will be run off in a 20-week period and guarantees a minimum of five games for each Senior County Football and Hurling team with all bar three counties guaranteed six games in hurling.
Preparation window and games provisions:
- Return to collective Senior inter-county training on April 19th
- No return dates as of yet for collective inter-county minor or U20 training – current exemptions only relate to Senior level.
- Below provisions guarantee a minimum of 5 games for each Senior County Football and Hurling team (all bar 3 counties guaranteed 6 games in Hurling)
- Objective – balance
- Ensuring sufficient games at inter-county o League v Championship
- Club window (2020 and 2021)
- Inter county completed by end of August
- Original Programme announced in December – 27 weeks; new programme is 20 weeks
- Run from May 15th/16th to potential League finals weekend on June 19th/20th
- Divisions will be split into North and South as planned in December.
- 4 teams in each group – based on geography.
- 3 Round Robin games per team.
- Top two in each Divisional group to league semis, followed by league final*.
- Bottom two in each Divisional group to Relegation semis – losers (2) relegated.
- Bottom teams in Division 4 to Shield semi and final.
- Changes to what was originally announced:
- London will not be participating.
- *League finals will only be played (on June 19th/20th) if Counties involved are not playing in the Championship on the following weekend.
- In that circumstance, Div 1 – joint winners; Div 2, 3, 4 – joint winners and promotion.
- Div 1 and 2 Counties were asked if they were happy to return after 3 weeks on the basis that 5 league games could be guaranteed or after 4 weeks if only 3 games could be guaranteed – overwhelming majority opted for a return after 3 weeks.
- Thus Division 1 and 2 will start on 8th/9th May – Division 3 the following week.
- Div 1a and 1b: As announced in December – remain round-robin groups of 6
- No quarter or semi-finals.
- NO DIVISION 1 HURLING LEAGUE FINAL scheduled – there will be either joint winners for 2021, or if the teams that win Div 1a and Div 1b meet in the Championship, this will double as a League Final.
- Hurling League Relegation playoff to be played as curtain-raiser to Senior Hurling Semi-Final in August.
- Divisions 2 and 3 will not have league finals – top team in each Division will be crowned champions of that Division. Bottom team in 2a, 2b, and 3a will be the relegated team.
- British-based teams will not be involved in the AllIanz Leagues.
- London and Warwickshire will start 2022 in Divisions 2b and 3a respectively; Lancashire in 3b.
2021 Football Championships
- Provincial knock-out Championships
- No Qualifiers
- New York and London NOT involved
- No Tailteann Cup in 2021
2021 Liam MacCarthy Cup [Hurling]
- Provincial knock-out Championships with back-door qualifier system (as in 2020) but with introduction of relegation (to Mc Donagh Cup).
- There will be 11 teams in Liam Mac Carthy in 2021.
- Munster – Limerick, Waterford, Tipperary, Clare, Cork
- Leinster – Kilkenny, Galway, Wexford, Dublin, Laois, Antrim
- There will be a preliminary round in the qualifiers between the two defeated Quarter-final teams in Leinster.
- Winners progress to Qualifiers Rd 1 – Losers to Mc Donagh Cup 2022.
2021 Joe McDonagh Cup [Hurling]
The six competing teams will be split into two Round Robin groups with each team playing one home and one away match. The top team in each group advance to the Final which will be played on Saturday, July 17, the same day as the Leinster SHC Final, and broadcast live on TV.
The Joe McDonagh Cup winners are promoted in 2021 but do not have a back door into the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
If Kerry win the 2021 Joe McDonagh Cup they will play in Leinster in 2022 and replace the team relegated from the Leinster Championship this year.
Competing counties: Kerry, Westmeath, Meath, Carlow, Kildare, Down.
2021 Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard, and Lory Meagher Cups [Hurling]
The only change to what was announced in December is that British-based teams will not be involved. The British-based teams will begin the 2022 season in the same Cup they were due to play in in 2021. The three competitions will be played on the following basis.
Two sides to the draw:
- Group A - 3 teams drawn on an open draw basis (each team plays 2 games)
- Group B - Two teams play in one fixture
Quarter-Final/Relegation play-off: Bottom team from A v Loser of B (loser relegated – exception: Meagher Cup)
Semi Finals: Top 2 teams from Group A are drawn to play against Winner of Group B and Winner of Quarter Final/Relegation play-off
2020 Minor and U20 Hurling, and Minor Football and 2021 U20 Football and Hurling, Minor Football and Hurling
- Details will be finalized when there is clarity on a return to training / play date.
2021 Club Window Provisions
- Important to note that we still do not have permission to return to club training or games yet (only training in pods of 15 allowed in the North)
- However, calendar is set up in such a way that:
- Club competitions with county players can take place as County teams exit the Championships (in football, teams start exiting from the end of June; in Hurling July 10th) [RESTRICTIONS PERMITTING]
- From August 1st, all Counties bar All Ireland Semi-Finalists in Football and Hurling, and the teams in the Div 1 Hurling Relegation play off, will be free to stage club competitions with county players. [RESTRICTIONS PERMITTING]
- Additionally, the commencement of the Provincial Club Championships will be delayed until Mid-November.
- Provinces have been requested to ensure Clubs from teams in the senior intercounty All Ireland Semi-finals and Finals will not be involved in the earliest round of the relevant Provincial Championship (where possible).
- Senior Provincial Club Championship will most likely start in or around the weekend of Nov 20/21 (dates to be finalized by each Provincial Council).
- All Ireland Senior Club Finals are provisionally scheduled for the weekend of February 12 / 13 2022.
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