*Clonlara’s Cian Moriarty. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
The GAA fixtures plan for Clare for the 2021 season was unanimously adopted, with a few minor adjustments, when the May meeting of the board took place online on Monday evening.
The football leagues will commence on June 7th and will be run off over five rounds without promotion and relegation, the Clare Cup will start on the following weekend (June 12/13). The second round of both will take place on the weekend of 19/20 with dual clubs requesting one of these games take place on the Friday.
A number of clubs expressed concern at being asked to play all of their league games without members of the U20 county panel and there was support for the view that clubs be allowed to consult with the county managements in those grades about having some players from those panels available for some of those games.
Corofin’s Ambrose Heagney, commended the masters fixtures committee but said “the issue will be the under 20 players. We have six involved with the two under 20 county panels. Three of those are aged 18 and we want to introduce them to out intermediate teams this year so we would be hoping to get them for some games”. Éire Óg’s Rory Hickey supported the view of his fellow former referee.
Joe Garry of Cooraclare said that “while I have sympathy for Corofin and Eire Og, the under 20 Clare footballers will be playing at the beginning of July which leaves them with just three weekends to prepare. Clare football is in a very good spot at present and I would hate to hamper that. We must row in behind the county under 20s”.
There will be an U19 development competition in July to be run midweek and clubs will have to confirm if they want to take part.
An U21 competition will also be held in November or December and into the New Year if required. A number of clubs were strong in the view that a competition had to be run for this age group and these included Sixmilebridge’s Christy Murray who stressed that “we are losing players in this age group and we have to provide hurling for them”.
Supporting this Kilmaley’s Conor Clancy said “a lot of players at this age group don’t have a lot of games. Underage players are getting the short straw. There was no under 16 last year. If we have to play on St. Stephen’s Day like they do with the North Kerry championship, then so be it”, the two-time All-Ireland winner remarked.
Relegation from the senior hurling championship will be decided on a league basis involving the bottom team from each of the four groups. This came about following a proposal from Whitegate delegate David Solon.