Do or die against Dubs as GAA releases master fixture plan

Westmeath’s senior footballers will have to stop six-in-a-row-seeking Dublin in a Leinster quarter-final, or their inter-county year will end abruptly at the first hurdle.

The GAA released its post-Covid-19 master fixture plan today, with the inter-county season expected to take off in the second half of October once all club competitions have been finalised.

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 the Dubs.

This means that if Westmeath lose to Dublin - as is universally expected - it will be the end of their championship campaign.

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.

Hurling

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 senior hurling 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, with the second-tier final the curtain raiser for the All-Ireland SHC final on December 13.

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 and 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. Westmeath currently lie in fourth place in Division 2, two points off top-placed Armagh.

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.

Club Championships

The 2020/2021 provincial and All-Ireland club championships will not take place.

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