The GAA have are adopting a split season for 2021 with the release of their provisional calendar of fixtures.
Having worked (forcibly) across 2020 to get an inter-county championship in hurling and football and a heavily compacted but well-followed club championship into the Autumn, the format for all codes and grades has been outlined.
Inter-county football and hurling will return in the last weekend of February for the Allianz National Leagues.
From early April, it’s expected we’ll see the return of provincial championships.
The GAA have also reintroduced the backdoor into the Senior Football and hurling Championship with added relegation options.
Pre-season is out
We’ve known it for some time, but pre-season competitions are out for 2021. That means no Walsh Cup, no O’Byrne Cup, and no yelling on the sidelines for Kilkenny v Wexford in Nowlan Park on a cold Sunday in January.
Having played all the way through December, players at inter-county level are encouraged not to resume training before 15 January (senior), 5 Februuary (minor hurling, football or U20 football) or as late as 2 April (U20 hurling).
Inter-county hurling and football for the Allianz national leagues will resume from the end of February, running into early April. You can see the full breakdown here.
Once the leagues are done, it’s straight onto the hurling and football championships. For football, the back door qualifier system is back for provincial knockout championships and the Tailteann Cup.
- There will be no round robin quarter finals
- New York will not be involved in the Connacht Championship as this will take place in early April and impossible to plan for this currently. A decision on their participation in Tailteann Cup to be made subject to restrictions (Tailteann date if they are involved is 16 May)
- Round one of Qualifiers (if required) to be limited to teams that did not make their provincial semi-finals
- London participation to be a matter for Connacht Council based on restrictions (date is 17/18 April if they are to be involved)
With the hurling championship, there will be 11 teams contesting the Liam MacCarthy in 2021.
The back door qualifier is there as it was for 2020 but relegation to the Joe McDonagh Cup has been introduced.
From Munster, Limerick, Waterford, Tipperary, Clare and Cork will join the Leinster sides of Kilkenny, Galway, Wexford, Dublin, Laois and Antrim.
The All-Ireland senior hurling final will take place on the weekend of 10/11 July with the senior football final the following weekend.
McDonagh, Ring, Rackard and Meaghar
What about the other inter-county cups? Here’s who’s playing for what honours in 2021 championship hurling.
- Joe McDonagh Cup: Kerry, Westmeath, Meath, Carlow, Kildare, Down
- Christy Ring Cup: Roscommon, Sligo, Wicklow, Derry, Offaly, London
- Nicky Rackard Cup: Donegal, Mayo, Leitrim, Armagh, Tyrone, Warwickshire
- Lory Meagher Cup: Monaghan, Longford, Louth, Cavan, Fermanagh, Lancashire
The club game
Per the GAA, club competitions – largely without County players – can take place in the Spring and early summer months subject to Covid-19 regulations.
- Uninterrupted main Club Championship Window from July 24/25 to Oct 23/24
- Provincial Club Championship window primarily from 16/17 Oct to Nov 27/28
- Suggested Provincial Draws are not made until All Ireland Quarter final participants in the senior inter county championships are known.
- County champions from the teams involved to NOT be involved in Round 1/Quarter finals in Provincial club championships where possible.
- All Ireland Club Championship Semi-finals in December
- 2021 All Ireland Club Finals to take place in January 2022
Read the full breakdown including details of the Tailteann, Joe McDonagh and Christy Ring cups here.