O'Byrne Cup scrapped as Longford footballers focus on the National League

County will come first in the new GAA split season in 2021

Leader Reporter


Leader Reporter



Longford manager Padraic Davis very happy with the win over Carlow

Longford senior football manager Padraic Davis Photo: Declan Gilmore

The Longford senior footballers will not get the chance to defend the O'Byrne Cup that was won back in January as the 2021 pre-season Leinster competition has been scrapped due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Covid permitting, the Longford footballers and hurlers will be back in competitive action at the end of February under the new plan for the 2021 inter-county season unveiled on Monday by the GAA.

Under the new plan, County games will take place in the first part of the season with an uninterrupted main Club Championship window from the weekend of July 24/25, to October 23/24, with the Provincial club competitions, up to All-Ireland semi-finals, taking place from October 16/17, onwards.

No collective training will be permitted before January 15 while no Senior Inter County challenge games will be allowed until February.

The National football league will have a new look to it with the old eight team groups being split in two with geography being the core decider of what section you play in.

Division 3 of the National Football League will see Longford compete in the North section along with Derry, Fermanagh and Ulster champions Cavan - a tough task for manager Padraic Davis and his squad - while Limerick, Wicklow, Offaly and Munster champions Tipperary will make up the other half of the Division.

- 3 Round Robin games per team

- Top two in each Divisional group to league semi-finals, followed by league final

- Bottom two in each Divisional group to Relegation semi-finals, losers (2) relegated

The Longford senior hurlers, with Derek Frehill re-appointed manager for a third year, will be competing in Division 3A of the National League next season after retaining their status in the 2020 campaign. 

Club Competitions 

Club competitions, largely without County players can take place in the Spring and early summer months - Covid regulations permitting - while there will be a new uninterrupted club championship window from July 24th to October 24th with the provincial club championship kicking in for the remainder of the year.

All these plans are subject to Covid-19 restrictions but the plan does give a lot of clarity to both club and County.

The main points of the new plan are as follows;

Closed season

-Providing a meaningful closed season/down time:

-No return to collective Senior inter county training before January 15.

-Senior inter county challenge games allowed from start of February – due to covid and its associated risks, no training or games that will involve an overnight stay are permitted during pre-season.

-No return to collective inter county minor football training or U20 Football before Friday February 6; challenge games in these grades will be permitted from Friday, February 26.

-No Provincial “pre-season” competitions

Allianz Football League

- Run from Feb 27/28 to League finals weekend on April 3/4

- Pick up” weekend included – provision to allow competition to run over by one week if necessary

- Divisions will be split into North and South

- 4 teams in each group – based on geography

- 3 Round Robin games per team

- Top two in each Divisional group to league semis, followed by league final

- Bottom two in each Divisional group to Relegation semis – losers (2) relegated

- Bottom teams in Division 4 to Shield semis and final.

- Provision made to run either with London or without depending on restrictions.

Allianz Hurling League

- Run from Feb 27/28 to league finals weekend on April 10/11

- “Pick up” weekend included – provision to allow competition to run over by one week if necessary, also allowed for

- Run on same basis as in a normal year except no League Quarter or Semi Finals – Division 1 league final will be Div 1A winners v Div 1A winners; top two teams in all other groups play the relevant league final.

- Provision made to run either with British based teams (London, Warwickshire and Lancashire) or without depending on restrictions

- If without…… London and Warwickshire will be exempt from relegation (i.e. they will start 2022 in Divisions 2b and 3a respectively)

- Decision will be formally taken on the participation of British teams in January and depending on Restrictions in place.

2021 Football Championships

- Provincial knock-out Championships with back-door qualifier system and Tailteann Cup

- No Round Robin quarter finals

- Round 1 of Qualifiers (if required) to be limited to teams that did not make their provincial semi-finals

- London participation to be a matter for Connacht Council based on restrictions (date is 17/18 April if they are to be involved)

2021 Tailteann Cup

- For teams in Division 3 and 4 of the football league at the end of the 2021 league season (i.e. AFTER promotion/Relegation process), that DO NOT reach their respective Provincial Finals

- Preliminary Round(s) to be organised if more than 16 eligible teams

- If NY are allowed participate, they will be drawn against an eligible team defeated in either Round 1 or a Quarter final of the Provincial Championships – game date May 16 (this may be a preliminary Qualifier if more than 16 teams eligible).

- Recommended that Provincial Champions from the previous year – regardless of whether they are Division 3 or 4 Counties or not – are automatically included in Sam Maguire Qualifiers even if they do not qualify for their provincial final in 2021

- Recommended if NY are involved, their game(s) will be in Ireland.

- Rounds – Prelim Round (if required), Round 1, Quarter Finals, Semi Finals and Final

- Semi Finals on Sunday June 6th – Croke Park double header; will be only significant games in the calendar on that date

- Final to be a curtain raiser to the All-Ireland Hurling Semi Final on June 26/27

2021 Liam MacCarthy Cup

-Provincial knock-out Championships with back-door qualifier system (as in 2020) but with introduction of relegation to Mc Donagh Cup

-Munster – Limerick, Waterford, Tipperary, Clare, Cork

-Leinster – Kilkenny, Galway, Wexford, Dublin, Laois, Antrim

-There will be 11 teams in Liam Mac Carthy in 2021 - there will be a preliminary round in the qualifiers between the two defeated Quarter final teams.

-Winners progress to Qualifiers Rd 1 – Losers to Mc Donagh Cup 2022

2021 McDonagh Cup and 2021 Ring, Rackard and Meagher Cups

- Recommending McDonagh Cup winners are promoted in 2021 but do not have a back door into Liam Mac Carthy

- Mc Donagh Cup and LSHC Final to be on Saturday, 22nd May to ensure Live TV coverage of Mc Donagh Cup final.

McDonagh Cup: Kerry, Westmeath, Meath, Carlow, Kildare, Down
Ring Cup: Roscommon, Sligo, Wicklow, Derry, Offaly, London
Rackard Cup: Donegal, Mayo, Leitrim, Armagh, Tyrone, Warwickshire
Meagher Cup: Monaghan, Longford, Louth, Cavan, Fermanagh, Lancashire
All of the above played on the following basis:

-Semi finals – Winner Group A v Runner Up Group B, and Winner Group B v Runner Up Group A

-Final (Home venue to Group winners)

-Draws to be made when it is clear if British based teams are participating or not.

-IF British teams ARE NOT PARTICIPATING in Ring, Rackard & Meagher – alternative competition structures will be put in place.

U20 Football

-Provincial Knock-out competition

-No U20 league

-Window for Championship 27/28 March to Final on May 1/2 (6 weekends)

Minor Football

-Window – March 20/21 to May 22/23.

-De-coupled from Senior All-Ireland Championships

-Development C.C.C.C to bring forward proposals on how these should be structured.

-Main All-Ireland Finals to ideally be in Croke Park if possible

-All knock out games in the above Championship competitions, will be subject to finish on the day regulations – EXCEPTION: All Ireland Senior Football and Hurling Finals (Tier 1), which will have Extra time in the original fixture, and will be finish on the day in the event of a replay only.

2021 Club Window Provisions

-Club competitions – largely without County players – can take place in the Spring and early summer months, covid regulations permitting.

-Uninterrupted main Club Championship Window from July 24/25 to October 23/24

-Provincial Club Championship window primarily from October 16/17 to November 27/28

-Suggested Provincial Draws are not made until All-Ireland Quarter final participants in the senior inter county championships are known. County champions from the teams involved to NOT be involved in Round 1/Quarter finals in Provincial club championships where possible.

-All Ireland Club Championship Semi-finals in December

-2021 All Ireland Club Finals to take place in January 2022