It’s a knockout?


It looks as if the GAA are set to unveil their proposals for this year’s Championships in the near future. An announcement on that is now expected as early as Monday next.

Damian Lawlor was on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland show this morning and he sketched out the bones of the GAA’s plans as he understood them – his subsequent piece on the RTÉ website is here.

This reveals that the GAA is planning a straight knockout format for the football Championship using as its basis the provincial draws that were made last October. For us, in case you’ve forgotten, that would mean an opening round trip to Páirc Seán MacDiarmada to face Leitrim, with the winners going on to play defending provincial champions Roscommon in the semi-final.

Ahead of all that, though, there’s the small matter of the final two rounds of the National League to be sorted. It now looks as if these haven’t, after all, gone away and so our battle to avoid relegation from the top division will apparently be decided in the second half of October prior to the Championship getting going.

This outline of the emerging GAA plans was, it should be noted, published before the Government this evening unveiled its latest acceleration of the reopening programme. It’s not clear if the Government announcement will mean an earlier start to the inter-county action than was mooted this morning but I guess we’ll find out for sure when the GAA reveal their revised fixtures plans for the remainder of the year as they’re set to do soon.

The LGFA, meanwhile, have opted to dispense with provincial competitions this year and will instead play off their senior football Championship – a tournament comprising twelve counties – using a round-robin format. Four teams – including Mayo – will be seeded, with the placing of the remaining eight counties decided by an open draw. Further details on the LGFA’s Championship plans for 2020 are here.

The GAA’s apparent decision to stick with the provincial Championships this year came in for a bit of stick on RTÉ’s GAA podcast, which featured Kevin McStay and Dessie Dolan. More on that here.

28 thoughts on “It’s a knockout?

  1. If straight knock out, then will give more of an edge to these games. Means we have to be focused from the off.

    In some ways, having a tough league game may be good in advance, these would have an edge, and sharpen the team.

    Let’s see, alot can happen in the next few months, but at least it is a return to a kind of normality.

  2. I think the draw for the semifinals this year are Leinster v Munster and Connaught v Ulster. This means Dublin and Kerry would have to meet in semifinal. This opens the door for Connaught or Ulster champions to reach final

  3. It’s seems a little unpredictable covid19 but you’d imagine if there was a second wave in the autumn that will put an end to any hopes of a championship and on the other side of the coin as in if there was no second wave perhaps we could see crowds allowed . Maybe just maybe that’s the thinking behind it .

    Championship itself will be as unpredictable as the virus . Not a notion would I have how we’d perform , other than the straight knockout would benefit Dublin hugely with Leinster being so weak . Three teams in Connacht with equal enough potential to win the province . With only one horse in Leinster two in Ulster , one in Munster and another from decent pedigree but a while since they challenged, Connacht definitely the most difficult of the four .

  4. If there is a resurgence the only thing I can see affected is crowd numbers, I just can’t see top level sporting activity completely halted again. This thing is just unfortunately going to be part of our lives for a long, long time to come

    Anyhow unpredictable certainly isn’t a word I’d use to describe the football championship. Realistically its extremely difficult look past a Dublin win again

    In fairness Leinster is a procession because they make it look easy. Meath are a division 1 team and Kildare only bet us 2 years ago, switch both of those with Galway & Ros and Dublin will still easily win Leinster (although Galway are improving hugely and are actually my tip for this year’s runner up prize) and we wouldn’t have it easy at all in Connacht.

    Knockout should definitely liven up Ulster anyway, Tyrone in particular seem to be half-assed enough in the province in recent years, with the safety net of the back door. All of themselves, Donegal, Monaghan and maybe even Armagh or Cavan will be in contention there

    And again I think finishing the league makes sense, they’ll serve as good tune up games (way better than any friendly) and gives every county an extra 2 games aswell.

  5. I’d love to know everyone’s opinion on the big question this week in Mayo GAA.

    Option A : Retain league format as sent out to clubs last week.

    Option B: Play Micheal Walsh League and divisional competitions in place of the county leagues.

    It has to be A for me. Apparently the senior clubs are kicking up a fuss that they will be without their county start (yes it’s not on) but I think teams deserve the chance to get promoted.

    Also the MW league is let’s face it, a glorified challenge and who is going to be bothered playing it once championship is done?

  6. Tis all about opinions Ciaran but I’d disagree with nearly everything you forecast , number one “this will be part of our lives for a long long time to come “ If that’s the case sport will cease even at a professional level but it won’t be the case cause there has already been full crowds at a rugby game in New Zealand and I’d expect professional football in the UK to have crowds back by as early as September.

    I also think Dublin could will be beat this year by Kerry and yet Kerry might not win the all Ireland. Armagh and Cavan have slim to no chance of provincial honours. Also Dublin wouldn’t beat Galway near as handy as they beat Kildare & Meath.

  7. yew_tree – I think they should play the leagues too. Club competitions are allowed start on 17th July after the announcements yesterday so the Mayo CB should fix an extra couple of rounds in before club championship when county players will be dying to play games.

  8. I predicted in mid April there would be a championship later this year.
    I’m my opinion it should be Div 1 teams only, 4 games played at same times, extra time if necessary and free kicks if required to settle the game if needed.
    It could be interesting to see of if ALL Counties play by the Covid 19 rules, ( there will need to be independent external people doing this testing ) ie, testing players regularly, I wonder would a player be dropped for a game if tested positive ?
    We need to be brave, take a chance, keep washing the hands also.

  9. Well that would be interesting, straight knockout. I suppose it lessens the amount of meaningless games in super 8 and back door.
    If it comes to pass and we do actually get a knockout championship, am I wrong with the following thoughts??Kildare nor Meath are even an outside chance in Leinster. And the other Leinster counties are miles off those 2. Dublin will win Leinster.
    Kerry in Munster
    Galway or Mayo in Connaught, Galway would have been the favourite only for the lockdown and broken momentum so it’s 50/50.
    Donegal in Ulster.
    What would the semi final pairings be?

  10. Mayo88 – I would strongly disagree. It’s an all Ireland or nothing and by that I mean every county should have the opportunity to play…not just division 1 teams.

    Dave – It’s Connacht v Ulster this year so that means Kerry v Dublin the other side. A huge opportunity for a connacht team to make the final this year….

    But our Connacht record in recent years is a shambles and needs to be corrected. In this mad year though nothing is set in stone.

  11. @Mayo88 it would be a bit daft to have All Ireland with Div 1 teams only, afterall a number of teams in Div 2 are better than Meath.

    @Dave Galway favourites for what, Connacht? I’d be careful judging or hyping up teams on league form. The rossies are contenders for Nestor along with Mayo, Galway as let’s not forget they have won 2 of the last 3 provincial titles.

  12. Just an interesting thought.
    Games will be decided on the day. For tight games, around 1 in 5 of those end up level at normal time. Any team with the foresight to plan for extra time has an advantage.
    I think you’ve to lockdown several jerseys with younger players with the ability to still have running in their legs.
    It’s just more efficient with your subs to have many players that don’t need replacing due to endurance.
    I think we’ve the best defensive depth we’ve had in years now with everyone fit. From what I’ve seen Keith Higgins would be better used as an impact sub around the middle third more in attack.

  13. Has the traditional 3 year cycle for semis being broken by super 8s.

    Connaught played Munster in 11, 14, 17 so 20 wud be Munster again unless cycle broken

  14. Replacing the leagues with Divisional Cup and Michael Walsh matches? Seems like a daft idea to me. With the ease in restrictions, there can be three rounds of League matches played before the Championship begins. When the Championship is done and dusted, finish off what should be an ultra competitive League, with plenty to play for. Lose the first game in the Divisional Cup or Michael Walsh and players quickly lose interest in both competitions. Has this new format been properly debated at all?

  15. Grassroots – senior clubs in mayo don’t want to play it apparently…afraid to play without their county stars.

  16. Sure most of the divisional cups are halfway through already? As Grassroots says the competitions would be like meaningless challenges with teams conceding left, right and centre.

  17. Not pushed about format or who plays who at ths stage. I just want to see our bucks taking the field. It’s strange to be at bonfire week and not be at a championship game already.

  18. I think it’s great to have football at all this year,and not be quibbling about the format..
    Big problem some senior teams might have is if it’s meant to be a level playing field with a competitive league then surely it’s unfair to be playing with a weakened team..?
    And would suit some teams more than others…
    Divisional competition would be taken very seriously if played instead because obviously championship is around the corner…!!

  19. agree Tom Thumb, good to have the prospect of it back, and quibbling about whatever format they go with will largely be a moot point. The prospect of an imperfect completion to all competitions, has to be more palatable than nothing being completed at all. The best resourced counties will be in a stronger position in my view post lockdown, and therefore I’d still expect Dublin to come out top of the pile, albeit with Kerry, having a huge chance to knock them out in the semis. I would think Galway will have lost some momentum, and that could prove crucial to the preserving of our division 1 status, which we all thought was done and dusted. Impossible to know how that 2 game relegation scrap will position us for a condensed knock out format. Stay up and we head to Carrick with a pep in our step. Go down and that trip may as well be sponsored by Fyffes!

  20. Relegation would not be the end of the world,next years league will have very reduced crowds & so the money going to Div 1 teams will be much reduced.

  21. Upsides for Mayo (there are downsides too but leave them for the moment)

    * Our injury list should have cleared up
    * Those fit and well should include: Mattie Ruane, Chris Barrett, Donie Vaughan, Seamie O’Shea, Fionn MacDonagh, Cillian O’Connor
    * Long term injuries – Jason could be back in the frame. Boyler?
    * Rest will do them good: Aido, Leroy, Diarmuid

  22. For me they should restart the divisional cups. and run it over consecutive weekends. Teams would be going hell for leather and not bringing teams all over the County. They should keep things as local as possible. Once a team is knocked out of championship there would be absolutely no gra to finish out the league resulting in games been conceded/hammerings.

  23. @ Exiled in Dublin:- Hmmm… I get the win and win again (winning is a habit) approach but I can see Mayo v Galway rivalry being pretty even for the next year or two; without anyone having clear dominance. We beat them in Limerick last year (they’ll say without Comer they aren’t the same team). Anyway, I’d rather beat Galway in a Connacht final this year than beat them in the league…funnily enough, Im not sure Mayo have always performed to our best when we have a ‘pep in our step’. We are better when we are not so much ‘written off’ but when there are doubts cast over us. In other words the morale within the group is still relatively strong but where there’s a point to prove.

    I get the ‘staying up is crucial’ mentality but I said it at the start of the league that the fixture list was unkind to us and that we would struggle. There cab be a lot of positives gained from one season in div 2 – you can instill a winning confidence into a new/young team; give some older lads a break (ie: dont have to play Mcloughin every game all year!) – it can be useful PROVIDED you get promoted immediately after going down. Tyrone, Donegal and Galway are all grand having spent time there in recent years. If we relegated you’ll have hordes of doom and gloom mayo supporters, saying that’s the end of Mayo. Rubbish. But it’s obvious that some of our stalwarts of the past ten years are in the winter of their football careers -new blood is key and the league in 2020 was good for us in that regard, giving game time to ‘up and coming’ players. I dont want to get relegated but if we go down to div 2 – it would be a great test and challenge to our new-ish players to see how good they are. Div 2 is highly competitive. See how lads like Mullin, S Coen, EOD, Plunkett, (a midfield of Diarmuid and Ruane; with someone else thrown in too), Carr, Towey, Conroy, Ryan O’D…. mixed in with fellas who have several years ahead of them, Durcan, Harry, Keegan, AOS (could be tried at 14; there were glimpses of effective it could be already this league WHEN it’s done correctly), Cillian – and lads who is stay fit look like they have another 2 to 3 seasons in them, Mcloughlin, Doherty, Parsons (if he gets back to his pre-injury former or even close to it)…. After 2020, we cannot rely any more on our 2006 winning u21 guys. Some will keep going another season or two. But I doubt many will be around past the 2021 championship.

  24. Roscommon have to be favourites for Connaught but the knockout will focus minds. Anyone of Ros, May, Gal could realistically come out of Connaught I hope its Galway, ye hope Mayo and the long grass merchants will probably beat both of us, Dublin, Kerry and either Tyrone or Donegal (Tyrone on wane in my view, Donegal reliant on Murphy). Kerry have lots of issues papered over last year, the Dubs will beat them handy enough.

    Semi – G/M/R vs Donegal
    Semi – Dublin vs Kerry

    Final – Dublin vs G/M/R

    Winner – probably Dublin unfortunately

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