*Shane Hickey and county champions Kilmurry Ibrickane will be back in action next month. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Club football leagues are to begin on June 7th with the hurling leagues getting underway the following weekend while the club championships are expected to get underway in August.
That’s the likely scenario for Clare GAA clubs according to a document sent to the clubs this week ahead of a decision to be finalised at a meeting of the county board on Monday night.
In their letter to the clubs, the Masters Fixtures committee said they approached the 2021 schedule “with a mindset of getting clubs back playing games after the long layoff since Autumn 2020. While there is additional time available in the 2021 calendar for club championships over 2020, our senior championships are complicated by the fact that no relegation applied in 2020 and therefore the senior hurling championship will have 17 teams (three groups of 4 and one of 5) and the senior football championship will have 13 teams (two groups of 4 and one of 5)”.
Club games can resume from June 7 (Bank holiday Monday) and the recommendation is that the football leagues will commence on that date with hurling starting the following weekend. The committee believes that it will be possible to play five rounds of league games in both codes but this would see two weekends when hurling and football leagues would have to take place on the same weekend.
The games schedule can be reduced to four games requiring only one double weekend, if clubs wish. The committee is recommending that there will be no promotion or relegation in the leagues this season because of the fact that clubs will be without their senior and under 20 inter county players
The playing of a league fixtures programme for clubs is predicated on the fact that spectators will not be allowed at games and clubs will need to ensure that they fully comply with COVID-19 regulations for hosting home games.
To facilitate five rounds for all teams, it will not be possible to play semi-finals and finals in league competitions and instead it is proposed that the winner of the division will be decided on points and (scoring difference etc in accordance with rule 6.21 if required). In the case of the Clare cup, it is proposed that the winner of Division 1A receives the Clare Cup and the winner of Division 1B receive a shield for 2021.
The Junior A football championship final (Ballyvaughan v Banner) remains an outstanding fixture from 2020 and this fixture must be completed to determine promotion to Intermediate championship and the team remaining in the Junior A championship for 2021. The CCC will determine the date of this game, taking account of inter-county players (senior & U20), the Leaving Cert and the need to complete the game in advance of 2021 club championships commencing.
The proposed dates for the senior hurling and football championships (August) will require alteration should either the Clare senior hurling or football teams continue to be involved in championship competition in August. The CCC will consider revised dates (including midweek games in the event of this arising). The intermediate championships will commence on the same dates as the respective senior championships.
The senior hurling and football county finals are both scheduled for the weekend of November 6 and 7. In the event that a dual club is involved in both finals or a club is involved in one final with one or more isolated players who also play with a club in the other final, one of the finals will be deferred by a week. Similar provision may be required at Intermediate and Junior grades in the event that clashes arise.
In order to ensure completion of the Junior championships for Munster club championship, round 1 of the Junior football championship should commence on the weekend of august 7/7 while round 1 of the Junior hurling championship should commence on August 21/22 in conjunction with Round 2 of the senior and intermediate hurling championships.
A decision has yet to be made on the age group which Clare will run a championship, U19, U20 or U21. Consultation with the clubs back in January resulted in a majority looking for competitions at both U19 and U21. The masters fixtures committee believes that it “would be difficult in a normal year but would not be feasible in 2021. The delay to starting games was far greater than even anticipated in January and our view remains that it will only be possible to run one championship.”
They add that the earliest date for a championship at this level is likely to be November but say that “it may be possible to consider an U19 development competition in late June/early July but clubs would have to play without inter county players and these games would have to take place mid week”.
Clubs calling for last year’s under 21 competitions to be played will be disappointed to learn the committee’s view is that “there are no obvious dates for the competition in the calendar and their proposal is not to proceed with the competition”.