Back door slammed shut as GAA confirms 2020 plans
The GAA has confirmed arrangements for its 2020 inter-county competitions.
The confirmation comes after the recommendations of the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) were endorsed by the GAA's Management Committee.
The big news is that there will no 'back door' in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. Speculation had been growing in recent days that this would be the case and now it has been confirmed.
And with the existing provincial championship draws retained, it's very bad news for Westmeath, who have been already drawn against five-in-a-row All-Ireland champions Dublin.
This means that if Westmeath lose to Dublin - as is universally expected - it will be the end of their championship campaign.
London will be involved in the Connacht SFC, pending travel restrictions. Roscommon had been drawn to play London so this game now looks set to go ahead later in the year, with the winners to face Mayo in the Connacht semi-finals.
Roscommon claimed a famous win over Mayo in Castlebar en route to Connacht championship success in 2019. Mayo recovered and went on to reach the All-Ireland semi-finals, but there will no safety net in the anticipated rematch this year.
New York will not be involved in this year's Connacht championship.
In addition to no All-Ireland footballer qualifiers, the Tailteann Cup (Tier 2 competition) has been postponed until 2021.
As expected, there will be no Super 8s series this year - with the provincial winners meeting each other in the All-Ireland semi-finals, as was the case prior to 2001.
Opening round provincial football games will start on October 31 with the All-Ireland SFC final pencilled in for Saturday, December 19.
Competition regulations dealing with venues, promotion/relegation and dates for games will be finalised by the CCCC in the coming weeks.
The Liam MacCarthy Cup is to revert to straight knockout provincial championships – but there will be two back door rounds, with All-Ireland quarter-finals.
New draws are to be made for the Leinster and Munster SH championships - draws to be made this evening (Friday, June 26) on the RTE 6 One news.
The All-Ireland SHC final has been fixed for Sunday, December 13.
The Joe McDonagh Cup (which Westmeath will compete in again this year) is to stay in round robin format, with the winner promoted to the MacCarthy Cup for 2021.
But there will be no entry to the 2020 All-Ireland SHC for McDonagh Cup finalists.
The Ring and Rackard Cups will be straight knock-out; beaten quarter finalists enter relegation semi-finals, with a new draw required. The Lory Meagher is to retain its existing format.
Participation of the overseas units from England in Ring, Rackard and Meagher Cups will have to be on the basis of all games being in Ireland; it is also based on no travel restrictions being in place between Ireland and Britain.
'Finish on the Day' (i.e. extra-time and penalties, if necessary) to be introduced in all inter-county knock out games, including All-Ireland finals at all levels (Senior, U20, Minor).
Finish on the day for all inter-county competitions in 2020 will be: 2 x 10 minutes of extra-time; if still level, straight to penalties (as per Central Council regulations).
Football & Hurling Leagues
Rounds 6 and 7 of the Allianz Football Leagues are to be completed – top team in each division is league winner for that division. Football League finals will not be played.
Finals in Division 2 and 3 hurling only to be completed. No Division 1 Hurling League quarter-finals, semi-finals or finals will be played – Limerick are declared Division 1A and Clare Division 1B champions for 2020.
The All-Ireland U20 football semi-finals and final are to be completed.
U20 hurling championship to be played concurrently with senior; no All Ireland U20 semi-finals; provincial champions to meet in the All-Ireland final.
There will be no All-Ireland quarter finals in minor football or hurling.
Meanwhile, regarding second level schools competitions, the CCCC has recommended that competitions should be completed to provincial final stage only - no All-Ireland series at any level.
The 2020/2021 provincial and All-Ireland club championships will not take place.