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End of July start for club games in Clare as master fixtures committee recommend new formats

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*Kilmurry Ibrickane’s Keelan Sexton. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Preferred formats have been identified by Clare GAA’s master fixtures plan committee for the running of the adult championships this summer.

Clubs will have an eight week window to compete in the Clare senior hurling championship (SHC), senior football championship (SFC), intermediate hurling championship (IHC) and intermediate football championship (IFC).

As first reported by The Clare Echo, action in the Clare SHC is to commence on Friday July 31st. It will have a new format along with the Clare IHC for 2020. The Clare Echo understands that the preferred format of the committee behind the master fixtures plan will see an unseeded draw for the first round pitting eight teams against each other, in the second round the eight winners from round one will play the eight losers and the winner of the second round tie will advance to the quarter-finals.

Another potential structure for the hurling will see four groups of four with two games played by each side in the group stages with the top two teams emerging into the last eight.

Both the Clare SFC and IFC will follow the same format to each other but a different one to the hurling. The master fixtures plan committee have recommended a format that would see an open draw for the first round that pits six teams against each other. For the second round, the winners would face off with the three teams that secure back to back victories advancing to the semi-finals.

On the other side of the draw, the six defeated first round teams will face off, the three teams that win will progress to a three-way play-off. The play-off will take place over the course of one weekend, a draw will take place to see who gets a bye with the first tie expected to be played on a Friday evening, the winner of which will then play on Monday against the club that receives a bye, the side to progress from the play-off will then qualify for the final semi-final spot.

A more flexible time-frame is to be considered for the Junior hurling championships. The same cannot apply to Junior football as Meelick’s Kevin Harnett will be returning to Clare football training when Colm Collins’ men resume their preparations for the deferred inter-county season.

No teams will be relegated from the 2020 Clare SHC or Clare SFC. Winners of the Clare IHC and Clare IFC will still secure promotion to the senior ranks for 2021, it may lead to double the amount of teams being relegated next year. A Senior B competition will also be held this summer where clubs are likely to be without their county panellists.

Clubs have been informed of the plans via correspondence on Friday. A meeting of the County Board and club delegates is to be held online next Friday, some clubs have already been consulted in the preparation of the master fixtures plan.

In correspondence to the club, the committee behind the revised formats outlined, “The Master Fixtures Schedule is unlikely to meet with unanimous approval or agreement but the circumstances are such that the time period available is restricted and we as a committee have to consider all of the stakeholders, being players, clubs, inter-county teams, spectators and the County Board coupled with the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on the hosting of games. In addition, the existing formats of many of our adult competitions are such that a longer period of time to complete the games is required and accordingly, we have had to vary the formats in many competitions”.

“In the event that the Government lifting of restrictions is advanced and subsequently, the GAA roadmap on return to contact and play is accelerated, the dates as outlined in the Master Fixtures Schedule would be brought forward by 1 week so that the Hurling championship would commence on the weekend of 25th / 26th July and the Football Championship on the weekend of 1st / 2nd August”.

Clare SHC / IHC
Rnd 1 – weekend of July 31/Aug1/2

Rnd 2 – weekend of Aug 14/15/16

Rnd 3 – weekend of Aug 28/29/30

Semi-finals – weekend of Sept 12/13

Final – weekend of Sept 26/27

Clare SFC / IFC

Rnd 1 – weekend of Aug 7/8/9

Rnd 2 – weekend of Aug 21/22/23

Rnd 3 (Play/Off) – weekend of Sept 4/5/6/7

Semi-finals – weekend of Sept 19/20

Final – weekend of Sept 26/27

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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