As Covid-19 numbers remain high and no return to inter-county training date set, there is a reluctance among GAA officials especially at provincial level to announce who will be facing who at the start of this year’s Championship
BY JOHN FOGARTY
Next week’s six GAA senior provincial championship draws have been postponed until March at least.
As Covid-19 numbers remain high and no return to inter-county training date set, there is a reluctance among GAA officials especially at provincial level to announce who will be facing who at the start of this year’s Championship.
The four provincial football and two hurling draws were to be made on RTÉ Radio but the GAA have opted to go for a later date.
As revealed before Christmas, the Liam MacCarthy and Sam Maguire Cups are to be played on a qualifier basis.
Eleven teams start the Liam MacCarthy Cup with relegation applying to the Joe McDonagh Cup for the provincial quarter-finalist beaten in the preliminary round of the qualifiers.
Should the Leinster Council afford 2020 finalists Galway and Kilkenny byes as they did 2019 finalists Wexford and the Cats last season, relegation can only apply to the other nine teams as the Munster SHC draw is an open one.
In the Munster SFC, Cork and Tipperary as 2020 finalists will receive semi-final byes although they can be drawn in the same last-four game.
This season will mark the first time in eight years that Kerry have begun the Championship at the quarter-final stage.
There has been some speculation the Leinster Council could provide All-Ireland champions Dublin with a semi-final bye.
For now, they will be handed a quarter-final spot along with fellow 2020 semi-finalists Kildare, Laois and Meath.
In Ulster, Cavan and Monaghan will receive quarter-final byes as they faced one another in the preliminary round last year.
For the second year running, New York will not be involved in the Connacht SFC meaning Roscommon, who were due to travel there this year, are in line to receive a quarter-final bye.
Mayo, whose turn it is to make the trip to Ruislip, could go straight into the semi-finals should the Connacht Council choose not to allow London to take part for Covid reasons.
The Tailteann Cup applies to those teams in Division 3 and 4 at the end of this year’s Allianz League who don’t reach their respective provincial finals. As defending Munster and Ulster champions, Cavan and Tipperary have been guaranteed qualifier spots irrespective of them remaining in Division 3 or being relegated to Division 4 or failing to reach a second successive provincial decider.