The proposals are designed around getting action underway in either July, August or September, with there being no promotion or relegation via the leagues. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
Louth GAA have notified clubs of three potential fixture formats should football resume this year.
The proposals are designed around getting action underway in either July, August or September, with there being no promotion or relegation via the leagues, a move which has been made in order to ensure football regardless of inter-county commitments. Delegates gave the plans their backing at Monday night’s conference call County Board meeting.
Both chairman Peter Fitzpatrick and his deputy, Seán McClean, stressed that the programmes were merely contingency based as they await further clarification on the situation from both the GAA and government.
If July marks the end of playing restrictions, the intention is to run-off five rounds of the adult leagues before beginning the championships in August. The senior, intermediate, junior and hurling grades would be organised to completion before the points competitions are finished, October being the campaign’s end-point.
The football championships would follow their present format, as per the draw made earlier this year, but all quarter- and semi-final matches would have to be finished on the day - there being only room in the calendar for replays in the deciders.
Furthermore, the senior hurling and football final would be played on the same day, with the intermediate and junior showpieces also being grouped, in contrast to previous years where all four occasions got priority billing.
An August start would follow the same format, only finishing by the end of November.
However, should Gaelic games be held at bay until September, the championships would revert to a straight knockout, with league matches either side.
Mr McClean asked clubs to get behind their strategies, while insisting they would no longer be in a position to accommodate postponement requests from outfits on foot of weddings, stags, holidays, etc.
Leinster Council representative Declan Byrne, who was congratulated on his promotion to the provincial management committee, added that it was looking increasingly unlikely that there would be a Leinster club series for 2020’s championship winners.
Meanwhile, Minor Board chairman Kevin Gordon said the U14, U16 and minor league structures may have to be reconsidered, with three divisions currently in place at each level. The Na Piarsaigh clubman explained that he and his colleagues could be forced to condense what was an 18-week schedule into “six, seven or eight weeks”.
This, he conceded, may involve moving to a five-division basis, discarding results of games that have already taken place, while the U13, U15 and U17 competitions have been scrapped indefinitely.
Both Mr Gordon and Mr McClean agreed to liaise on the matter, along with their respective board secretaries, Anthony Briscoe (Stabannon Parnells) and Stephen Murphy (Naomh Máirtín).
Following the top table’s card lay, St. Patricks’ Tommy McCann referred to Sport Ireland head John Treacy’s assertion that there is unlikely to be contact sports permitted this year and said his club would prefer “a definite answer” over whether GAA will go ahead.
He added that everyone felt as though they were “hanging in mid-air” and “the sooner a decision is made the better”.
Mr Fitzpatrick said the County Board would be in a better position to make a judgement after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s next announcement on May 5, revealing that the government were due to meet with the FAI, GAA and IRFU for discussions, albeit the Chief Medical Officer, Tony Holohan, would provide the ultimate assessment.
Furthermore, Mr McClean acknowledged that no action was “quite possible” this season and that his plans were objective and a means of preparation should activity be resumed.
St. Mochtas’ Paul Murtagh wondered if Louth would “be better taking the bull by the horns” by declaring the year a wipe-out. He said that his club weren’t in favour of putting any of their players at risk by having close contact in a dressing room or during games, especially as social distancing is likely to be enforced for up to another 12 months.
Both Mr Fitzpatrick and Mr McClean accepted Mr Murtagh’s plea, and, in response, the chairman asked for clubs to “sit tight” and await leadership from the medical professionals.
Sean O’Mahony’s chairman Pat O’Brien congratulated and thanked the fixture setters for their effort and diligence.