Shape of next year’s inter-county fixture list starts to emerge

With last Saturday’s provincial Championship draws and the emergence over the weekend of details of the provisional fixtures for the National Leagues, the shape of what our inter-county fixture list might look like next year is starting to emerge.

It’s worth noting at the outset, however, that no dates have been confirmed yet for any of the fixtures we’re likely to be facing in 2024. They probably won’t be either until the Master Fixture List for next year is published closer to Christmas.

So, with that caveat in mind, here’s what we know at this point about what’s in store for us in 2024.

The National League campaign will get underway on the final weekend of January. Ahead of that there’ll be the annual pre-season FBD League kick-about in the Dome, where we’re likely to start with a semi-final on either Friday 12th or Saturday 13th January. If we make the FBD final, that will be on the following weekend.

Round 1 of the League will be on the weekend of 27th/28th January and the provisional fixture list sees us away to Galway. There aren’t floodlights in Pearse Stadium so that means the game will be on there on the Sunday.

Round 2 is a home match against Derry. That’s set to be played on the Saturday (3rd February) after the Galway game, under the lights at MacHale Park.

There’s usually a week’s break then so we can expect Round 3 to be played on the weekend of 17th/18th February. In Round 3 we’re away to Kerry and that’ll almost certainly be played under the lights in Tralee so will be another Saturday evening game.

So too will our Round 4 match, which is away to Tyrone. That’s on the weekend after the Kerry game and if it’s a Saturday evening match the date for it is 24th February.

Round 5 follows the weekend after, with Roscommon coming to Castlebar so that’s another Saturday night under the lights game. That Saturday is 2nd March.

After Round 5 there’s another weekend off so Round 6, in which we welcome Dublin to MacHale Park, will be on St Patrick’s weekend. Once again, this will be a Saturday evening game, so will be on 16th March.

In Round 7 all the matches take place at the same time on the Sunday so our final round game away to Monaghan will take place on Sunday 24th March.

The National League Division One final, which we absolutely do not want to have anything to do with next year, will then be held on Sunday 31st March. Seven days after that we play our Connacht Championship opener against New York over in Gaelic Park.

Based on this year’s fixture schedule and assuming we beat the Yanks, our Connacht semi-final meeting with Roscommon would take place on the weekend of 20th/21st April, with the Connacht final on a fortnight after that, i.e. the weekend of 4th/5th May.

Round 1 of the All-Ireland SFC Group Stage is likely to be pencilled in for the weekend of 18th/19th May, though, depending on what group we’re in, this could be the weekend after that. At this point, guessing which weekend we might be playing becomes a bit of a pointless exercise so I suppose that’s as far as our possible fixture list for next year needs to be sketched out at this stage.

Three points leap from the above.

The first is another health warning about all those possible fixture dates. None of them are confirmed as yet so if you go and book flights, hotels etc. based on them, then on your own head be it.

Second, that League schedule looks pretty damned stale. It’s the same fixture list, in reverse, that we had last year, save for the two changes due to the relegation of Armagh and Donegal and the promotion of Derry and Dublin. This is the way the GAA always do their League fixtures and while this makes planning easier for them, it does nothing to promote the competition.

Lastly, the way supporters are being force-fed too many inter-county matches in such a short space of time – with the end of the League rammed ceremoniously up the rear end of the Championship’s start – is self-evident from the potential schedule set out above.

As I said on the highlights pod the other day, if the inter-county season is to be restricted to the six months from the end of January to the end of July, then this ludicrous schedule simply cannot hold over the longer term. Supporters are already picking and choosing what matches to go to and the way in which they’re already voting with their feet is plain to see.

If you stir into the mix separate concerns about how unattractive the modern game has become as a spectacle, it’s not all that far-fetched to see the makings of what could be a serious problem for the GAA. You’d never know, it might even become the kind of a crisis that could jolt them to start thinking about what the Croke Park suits call their “product” and how it might be made more attractive for supporters.

But that’s all for another day. For now, I guess, we need to start rousing ourselves to go again in the New Year. Once we get final confirmation, of course, about where we’re actually going next year.

44 thoughts on “Shape of next year’s inter-county fixture list starts to emerge

  1. Three mouthwatering but very tough home game there in league, Derry, Rossies and Dubs. Given our home record, we could struggle..

  2. Ontheditch, let’s see how pitch holds after the weekend, way that pitch has panned out, home could be anywhere 🙂

  3. Hotels looking for 200 euro per person for night of Kerry match…even the Healy Raes are giving out about it!

  4. @ontheditch be interesting to see how Derry go this year I’d have tipped them to go far thus year but think they have gone backwards with bringing harte in ha ..

    we are well able for them though and we might have some revenge on for the Dubs haha but i don’t want us going 100 miles an hour again through the league and running out of gas for when it matters haha …

  5. @Clare. I agree. I think the Derry clash is the yardstick for ourselves too. I like the shape of Derry, strong up the middle, they employ a zonal defensive system excellently marshalled by the outstanding CHB Gareth McKinless, powerful midfield combination of Brendan Rodgers and Conor Glass. They have what we would like to have in many respects.
    Harte doesn’t have to change anything but I’d wonder like yourself, is it a progressive appointment.
    After all those years, we still have to learn how to manage games, close weaker opposition out when we’ve built up a handsome lead (Rossies Louth Cork)
    We live in hope, the young talent is there.

  6. Speaking of the Dubs, I thought we would have seen a few retirements by now, this is what we were lead to believe on the day they won the All Ireland final.

  7. If that’s our league schedule then it’s a tough one. That combined with the likely ‘less focus’ than 2023 will most likely mean that it could be a rocky road but I wouldn’t be overly concerned about that and I hope most supporters don’t get on the back if players or management after league results. The only comp we can really judge them on is championship.

    I think Harte will go all out with Derry in the league.

    For Mayo in the league, it’s about bringing lads who were in maiden seasons in 2023 to the next stage; Reape, Callinan, Coyne, McBrien, Tuohy. Time to see Hession nail down his position and role as a leader. It’s also about getting strategies in place to maximise AOS at 14, which we still haven’t fully succeeded in doing and also have an adaptable tightly structured defensive plan (not just the ‘back six’; the role of the entire team when not in possession).

    Hopefully we have a successful u20 campaign and can then bring a couple through from that who can really push for starting roles in the senior 15.

    And it’s be nice too to see the new minor mgnt have a strong year.

  8. On the dubs; they are probably looking at the field and thinking, we can do this again. That can be tempting

  9. Connacht U20 championship a round Robin format for 2024 it’s draw and U17 fixtures was done last night.

    Mayo gaa twitter has posted them up which saves me to typing them all up.

    FBD opener against London and winner plays the Rossies in the semi final not sure why they are continuing with indoor Dome games when NFL games are all out doors, management will hold back the majority of their first choice players for challenges now instead.

    Not sure if those NFL are correct. Same fixtures was doing rounds on forums but have they been published on the examiner, times or indo? Which is normally the case when leaked out. The two year cycle was finished this year and those 2024 fixtures are just a reversal of this year..

  10. @ontheditch yes agree with you to.. yeah we really need to figure out how to close out games is it to do with fitness or lack of concentration or just letting our guard down ? I don’t think it’s to do with fitness as our guys our pretty fit in fairness to them …

    On the Dubs I don’t think they will get to the final again next year even if none of the guys retire. Kerry probably get to a semi . But I think it’ll be two different teams in the final next year just have a feeling ha ..

    Don’t think Donegal are going to become magic overnight just because mcguiness will bring back in puke football between donegal and Derry with harte that might be one boring match haha

    I think next year is wide open and I’m quite optimistic despite managements strange decision making lately let’s see what they bring next year ..can’t wait ha!

  11. I was thinking last evening about the number 6 position.
    Did Paddy Durcan ever come into the equation to play there? I don’t recall him playing there much if he ever did. He would tick a lot of boxes surely. A bit of pace and physicality. Hession, Eoghan Mc or Sam Callinan could play either side of him.
    What do others think? is there any reason he couldn’t play there?

  12. I’d say there was a fair fall off in hits to this site after Mayos exit and after the AIF itself. The club championship feels well removed from the summer. We played the AIF replay in October of 2016. I’m not losing interest but it’s just not as interesting.
    Anyway, onwards to 2024!!

  13. Hopefully K King might be fully fit and fill the number six position,if he does we will be very good in defence

  14. @Mind the House
    I think we have four centre back options.
    Diarmuid O’Connor, Sam Callinane, Paddy Durcan and Rory Brickendon.
    I think there is a position specific thing that the centre back can’t be smaller than a build around Paddy Durcan’s build.
    Personally I favour Diarmuid as he is in my view the best kickpasser and decision maker of those four.
    Next year the six will have a lot of time and space like a quarter back and for me Diarmuid is very comfortable in that role.
    It’s a total waste if the person in the role can’t fully use that time and space.

  15. Crazy disrespect for the Connacht SFC for several years in succession now, having the league final the week before. Why can’t it wait another week?

    I think something has to give with the current GAA season format, whether it be the pre-season competitions, Sigerson, or the provincials, because too many games are being played in bad conditions. And let’s face it, the group stage last year led to a lot of dead rubber games.

  16. It means nothing to me, my guess will be both the Provincials and Pre-seasons like the FBD will be scrapped. Players have already voted through the GPA to have the FBD etc. abolished as they have no interest in them, clogging their already full calendars with a competition they do not value.
    Sigerson, due to the power of 3rd level institutes and need to prevent drop off will survive any cull I would imagine.

    The likely scenario IMO, is the league will become bigger, possibly some sort of home and away system that’s placings will feed directly into the championship groups.

    One of the more unexpected turn of events i heard of recently was to bring back the Inter-provincials of all things! To fill gap before All Ireland Final that used be filled by Minor….

  17. A league final is pure daft, usually the team on the highest points, or score difference or the head to head rule wins the league.

    Wouldn’t you love to see a complete overhaul of Senior inter County, no rubbish Connacht league in January, no league finals, a knockout All Ireland championship of 13 or at most 16 teams, no Provincial championships at all.

    Something completely different.
    No back passing at all, two referees as Aussie Rules, 2 points given for long range scores, frees to be taken only from the ground, etc.

  18. @JP
    I wouldn’t disagree at all with you regarding Diarmuid at 6. I still think we can get a tune out of him at 11. The last couple of years he has played very well early on at 11 in the league but we moved him elsewhere.
    Regarding Kieran King he did a very good job for Knockmore on our own Ryan O’Donoghue in the club semi final a few years back. He looked to have the tools for the job but wasn’t seen much since? I think I saw he had a run of injuries. Hopefully we can get a look at him the league.

  19. O Hora should be given a few games at CHB in the League. He is not a man marking corner back and should never be played corner back again, he has the physical strength to block the centre, which has been wide open for us for last few years. He can also move forward into attack and take a few scores. He wont be bullied on the field and can hold his own with any player just ask S Walsh.

  20. McBrien the obvious number 6 to me. Has great pace and can be way more influential from the 6 position.
    I don’t see anything wrong with trying Durcan either. Diarmuid may just not have the pace and no great record as a man marker.
    The whole defensive system we played last year messed up our midfield imo. Diarmuid stuck in behind Loftus and Ruane left to paddle on his own in midfield. Crazy stuff.

  21. I think Diarmuid o Connor scored the grand total of 1 point between the inter county championship and the club championship.
    In general vour half forward line has not been scoring enough, we rely von FF line and half back line, a big mistake vin my opinion.

  22. I remember thinking when Loftus and Paddy were playing together in championship last year, that they were very playing very similarly. I distinctly remember thinking I wasn’t sure what Conor was bringing that Paddy couldn’t or wasn’t.

    WTS 6 for me is a positional position, and not a man marking one, and I would be reluctant to lose Paddy’s ability to shut a man down.

    BWTS a man marking half back is someone who we should be looking for in the league, as is a pacey one.

    If I was picking right now, I’d have Coen 5 and Durkan 7. But this really because it’s most defensive and experienced combo, and I’m not convinced whoever I play in the rest of the team can cope without that.

  23. Ah, the National League. One or two good wins against Derry, Kerry or Dublin and the Mayo for Sam 2024 campaign will be back up and running. Hope it’s only used to prepare us for the Championship, it’s all about the round Robin now and having the week off before the quarter final. Hope McStay and Co has us peaking for later end of Championship.
    I welcomed the back-door system but as I get older, i find the Connaught championship has lost meaning. There was something special about knock-out Championship ties against the Rossies, Galway, Sligo and Leitrim. The whole season came down to these games. There might have been less games but what was rare was valued and those memories remain.
    So for me, FBD, League, Connacht and even round Robin games will lack the knock-out championship feeling that starts with the quarter finals. And just when I get used to this format it’ll be revamped again.

  24. @Glorydays and so what if people on the blog think we that we can win Sam in 24? What’s wrong with a little bit of faith do we have to be all doom&gloom haha yes lots to work on for sure but I’m not gonna start off 24 by saying we are going no where ha ..

    We have plenty of talents in mayo and are still one of the top counties in the country .

    I think Diarmuid or paddy would be great at number 6 .I’d actually leave mcbrien where he is he is well suited the position he’s in now .

  25. Regional championship started in Meath tonight . County divided into 8 teams, I am sure it takes a lot of organisation.
    Is it worth a try before the League?

  26. @Clare nothing wrong with faith and optimism at all its good and healthy but so is realism and our performances against Cork Louth and second half against Dublin convinced me of a few things namely our half forwards cant score, our midfielders cant field, we were afraid to kick the ball into Aidan O Shea and we need to do better in defence so im not too optimistic

  27. @Glorydays yeah true i get that fair enough for sure it was a poor championship from us and one our worst exits in quarters in a long time… I’m just thinking we can’t have a worse championship next year can we haha I’m sure we will bounce back though..

    Defence is an issue for sure…

  28. I think a Connacht title is important for us next. The draw makes it a good challenge too. Trip to New York is a nice break in between the league and championship.

    Ros away. Galway away. D1 team at home
    Big ask to win these 3 in a row but if you want to win all Irelands

  29. @Frosthehammer yeah tough asks for sure but our guys just need the confidence back after the quarters and not to peak to soon … but I think our guys probably can’t wait to show some revenge certainly v rossies & dubs ..and sure we always put our best foot forward fir Galway haha ..

  30. The first of our county final preview pods is up now on Patreon. This one previews the Senior final, with Mike joined on the show by Colm Boyle and Ger Flanagan.

  31. @Clare

    Beating D1 opposition 3 games in a row is a bigger ask than it seems.

    Off the top of my head, ourselves and Dublin definitely did it this year, Derry and Galway may have. That’s all the trophy winners expect Kerry.

    It’s a really good challenge, and if we do get through it, I’d have us as contenders, although that might change come the time.

  32. @Frostthehammer yes of course it is but I’ve no doubt we can do it .

    Tommy conroy should be back near his best and we should also have a fully fit hopefully cillian o Connor he was so unlucky this year with injuries I’m pretty optimistic for next year as always ha.

    We are well able for Galway . I think the guys will want to prove something against the Dubs after the quarters.. and itll be interesting to see how Derry go in division 1 let’s not forget they were a division 2 team not so long ago can they keep the pace in division 1 and will harte bring them backwards or forwards..

  33. @Clare, a Div 2 team won this year’s All Ireland, hammered Mayo in quarter final ( one week after previous game that Mayo played ).

  34. @Batetheblanket yeah but no other division 2 team could win the all Ireland apart from the Dubs who brought back the 6 in a row guys during the year when they were already in division 2 …..yeah and dubs had a 2 week break for that quarter final …

  35. Derry were at a top level and could have beaten kerry but they couldn’t close out the game and I think harte going in as manager will set them back but sure time will tell..

  36. Mayo have problems with forwards scoring for years, Horan tried to change this by developing a super fit attacking half back line, it did work well but then and in the championship of 2023 the forwards scoring from play dried up completely.

    Paul Mannion got 4 or 5 points from play in the final.
    Paddy Small got 1-1 from play
    Basquel got 2 points from play
    Fenton got 2 points from play
    Howard got 1 point from play

    That is 1-11 from play from the forwards and midfielders

    This is where Mayo need to get to.

  37. I don’t see why we shouldn’t be optimistic. The field has flattened. Derry maybe on the up,
    Dubs the team to beat if no one retired but 1 year older anyway and Kerry are at the same pitch as them. Clifford not at his usual heights in the final maybe trying to force things a bit when he could’ve passed a bit more but not normally greedy given his talent.
    We weren’t far off either and QF undoing was losing to Cork followed by a hard game vs Galway. Amateur player don’t recover in 6 days. The template for us is make the round robin and try to win our group with no complacency. Ros nearly beat Dublin which could’ve undone them in a QF. The championship schedule is a complete joke but the same for all teams. Peak early and make the QF as group winners with an extra week.
    Don’t worry about winning the league, only one in 8 chance it’ll happen.

  38. @shuffly deck totally agree with you! I’m very usual though haha

    Yeah Galway match the week before played a huge part in our quarter final exit ..I also think we lost our confidence after the cork game and we were just deflated and a little lost and peaked to Soon..

    One thing about out guys is that they are all quite young and in their prime so if anyone can bounce back from that hammering to the dubs its mayo haha and I bet you when we play them in the league we will beat them .

    But I would rather see a much slower pace in the league and trying out new players and just make sure we are safe in division 1 then I’ll be happy and then go 100 miles an hour for championship that’s where it’s at ha!

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