GAA club championships slowly pick up pace after long layoff
We sometimes forget that the clubs were infinitely more affected by the pandemic than the counties. Although the club season in 2020 was the first of the blocks and was a great summer weather with players from top to bottom of the county thrilled to have exclusive time with their teammates, there has been no activity until this summer.
It was noticed on TG4 on Sunday that the inter-county players at the Mayo Championship meeting of Breaffy and The Neale said they had not played for their clubs for a year. There have been two All-Ireland Championships played between the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
This year marks a return to some sort of normalcy as the Provincial and All-Ireland Championships will be played, although the Provincial Finals will not be over until the New Year.
The two outlier counties a year ago, Wexford and Waterford, have persevered with the club’s season split 12 months ago, which saw the hurling championship played first, followed by football.
In Wexford, it was first described as a way of giving former County Director Davy Fitzgerald quick access to his panelists, but upon closer examination it proved to be extremely popular with players from what is arguably the most active double county in the country. last year’s county champions Shemaliers had 13 players on both teams.
Either way, this year’s winners Rapparees were crowned penultimate weekend and the Waterford County final between Ballygunner, chasing a ninth consecutive title, and Roanmore takes place on Sunday.
There have been other finals – including Carlow – but overall the counties are barely out of the preliminary stages of their championships and provincial competition is not expected to begin until late November. The Leinster Council hasn’t even done their draws yet and those will take place next Monday.
There are reasons for the slow progress of the county championships, including the hangover of the 2020 competitions. For example, although only nine senior finals were due to be completed this year after the GAA ended the competition. club activity exactly one year ago next Tuesday, there were about twice as many intermediate finals, which obviously had an impact on the senior league this season.
All in all, we’re a long way from the pre-pandemic plans to end the All-Irelands club in the calendar year, which saw the light of day in 2018, but the past two seasons have not been normal.
This year, the inter-country championship has taken six more weeks than it would normally be in the club’s schedule, now that the shoulder season has been accepted for the future and will result in the end of the entire final. Ireland by the end of July.
Everything is going well and without any hangovers from the current season, it should be possible to advance the All-Irelands club to January as in 2020, just a few weeks before the Covid nightmare materializes. In fact, if that hadn’t been the case, the All-Ireland Club Championships would also have had to be reshuffled – along with the 2021 equivalent dropped.
Next year should be played by February.