By Denis J. Croke
FOR many the disruption caused to sport, and in particular to the GAA, by the Coronavirus pandemic may have resulted in a positive.
For many years there have been those who have called on the GAA to introduce a split season and it looks now like they may have got their wishes, albeit a temporary one.
Now due to the Covid-19 restrictions this year, the GAA have just confirmed plans to have a split season in 2021.
The Allianz football league will run from 27/28 February with the final on the weekend of 3/4 April. The Divisions will be split into North and South with four teams in each group based on geographical location.
This means there will be three round robin games per team with top two in each Divisional group advancing to the league semi-finals. The bottom two in each Divisional group will contest relegation semi-finals with the two losers relegated.
The Hurling leagues will also commence on 27/28 February with the final on the weekend of 10/11 April. The leagues will be run on same basis as in a normal year (Div1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b) except there will be no quarter or semi-finals. The Division 1 league final will be Division 1a winners v Division 1b winners. The top two teams in all other groups play the relevant league final.
The Provincial knock-out football championships with back-door qualifier system and Tailteann Cup with no Round Robin quarter-finals. Round 1 of Qualifiers (if required) will be limited to teams that did not make their provincial semi-finals.
Liam MacCarthy Cup
The Provincial knock-out Championships with back-door qualifier system (as in 2020) but with introduction of relegation to the McDonagh Cup. There will be 11 teams in the Liam MacCarthy in 2021. There will be a preliminary round in the qualifiers between the two defeated quarter-final teams. The winners will progress to Qualifiers Rd 1, the losers to McDonagh Cup for 2022.
Club Window Provisions
Club competitions, largely without county players, can take place in the Spring and early summer months covid regulations permitting. The main club