We’re now just over a week away from our first competitive inter-county outing of 2021. After a wait that has often felt like an eternity, the start of the football season seems to be arriving all of a shot.
There are a few bits and pieces of interest knocking around at the minute. In no particular order here they are.
Let’s start with one that may confuse you, as it did me. The GAA today announced the dates for the All-Ireland Championship semi-finals and finals at Minor and U20 levels, with these dates covering both the 2020 and 2021 competitions at Minor level. The dates for this year’s Connacht Championships at both levels have yet to be announced but I guess they will be in due course.
UPDATE: The fixtures and dates for this year’s Minor and U20 Connacht Championships have now been announced. Full details are here.
Next, the GAA announced yesterday that teams would be allowed to make seven substitutions in this year’s National Football and Hurling League campaigns. In light of the fact that county Senior panels (well, some of them) are only back in collective training for a few weeks, there are bound to be a good few pulls and niggles so it makes sense to allow plenty of substitutions to be made in the first few games played this year.
The number of subs could, however, become an issue if this dispensation is retained for this year’s Championship. If it is, it’s yet another leg-up to the stronger counties, notably the strongest one of the lot, who would be able to swap out half their outfield team with replacements of roughly equal ability. What are the odds again on the seven-in-a-row?
Next, it was confirmed yesterday that GAA GO will be streaming loads of live matches this year and, like 2020, the service will be available to those of us resident in this country. Our match with Down will be streamed live tomorrow week.
It’s pay-per-view, with single passes for matches costing €5 for League matches and €8 for Championship ones. A season pass, which gets you access to over 60 League and Championship matches, will, however, be on offer for just €25. That’s staggeringly good value, you’d have to admit, and the season pass goes on sale from next Wednesday.
Finally, there was a good interview by Declan Rooney on the RTÉ website on Wednesday with Eoghan McLaughlin (here; it’s also on Sky Sports here). Fond as I am of two-wheeled pursuits myself, though only at MAMIL level, I’ve always had a soft spot for the flying young Westport player, who was an All-Ireland Junior cyclist before he switched to playing Gaelic football.
It’s clear that, despite his high-profile exploits last year, Eoghan has his feet firmly planted on the ground. While he accepts that the All-Star nomination was both “grand” and “sound” he goes on to say that “I think we all know what the main objective is with the county.” That we do, Eoghan, and more power to you too.