By Denis J. Croke
LAOIS senior hurlers could be back in national league action by Saturday 8 May under the new fixture calendar for county teams unveiled by the GAA today. The senior footballers will resume their league action on the weekend of 15-16 May.
As predicted, there will be a return to collective training commencing on Monday week, 19 April.
The provincial championships are down to commence at the end of June. Under the revised plan inter-county competitions should be completed by the end of August with club action club action down to begin on the first weekend of September.
The All-Ireland Hurling Championship final will be played on the weekend of 21-22 August with the football final taking place on the weekend of 28-29 August.
There are no return to activity dates for collective county minor or under-20 training as the GAA is awaiting further instruction from the Government.
There will be a minimum of five games, between league and championship, for each senior county football and hurling team this season. In hurling, all bar three counties are guaranteed six games.
In hurling London and other English teams will not be participating in this year’s series, nor will New York in the football championship.
Allianz Football League
The football league commences on the weekend of 15/16 May and runs until potential finals on 19/20 June. League finals will only be played if counties are not due to play Championship the following weekend.
In that circumstance Division 1 will have joint winners while Divisions 2, 3 and 4 will have joint winners who gain promotion.
Divisions will be split north and south with four teams in each group based on geography. They will have three round-robin games each. The top two in each divisional group will proceed to league semis, followed by a final. The bottom two in each divisional group will play relegation semi-finals and final.
Laois footballers are likely to be paired with Cork, Clare and possibly Kildare in Division 2.
Allianz Hurling League
In hurling Laois are in Division 1B and will have five games. They will play Clare, Wexford, Dublin, Kilkenny and Antrim with games beginning on 8/9 May.
There will be no quarter-finals, semi-finals or final. Instead, there will be joint winners, or if teams that win in Division 1A and 1B meet in the championship that game will double as a League final.
The Division 1 hurling league relegation play-off will act as a curtain raiser to the All-Ireland senior semi-final in August.
Football and Hurling Championships
The provincial hurling and football championships will begin on the weekend of 26/27 June.
The football system is a provincial knockout with no qualifiers. London and New York will not be involved and there will be no Tailteann Cup.
The draw for the Leinster football championship will take place in ten days and Laois will be drawn in a quarter-finbal as they reached the semi-final last year.
Eleven teams will contest the Liam McCarthy Cup. Provincial championships will be held with one backdoor allowed. Leinster will contain Kilkenny, Galway, Dublin, Wexford, Laois and Antrim.
A draw will take place with last year’s finalists, Kilkenny and Galway, going straight through to the semi-finals with the other four teams contesting the quarter-finals.
The two quarter-final losing teams wil meet in a playoff with the losers relegated to the Joe McDonagh Cup while the winner will advance to Round 1 of the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
There is currently no permission for club training to resume but the GAA say that club championships will be allowed to start as county teams exit the inter-county series.
The commencement of the provincial senior club championships will begin from 20 November with the All-Ireland finals being staged in February 2022.