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2021 schedule Split-season plan will see All-Ireland finals in July


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Dublin celebrate in front of an empty Hill 16 after winning six in a row

Dublin celebrate in front of an empty Hill 16 after winning six in a row

Dublin celebrate in front of an empty Hill 16 after winning six in a row

All-Ireland champions Dublin can get preparations for their latest defence under way in just over three weeks' time after the GAA confirmed its 2021 schedule and the prospect of July All-Ireland finals.

The finals will be played in a different month for the third successive year as the GAA moves to a 'split season', cutting out overlaps between the club and inter-county seasons for the first time.

The GAA's director of games, club and player welfare Feargal McGill said the decision to go with inter-county games first, approved by Central Council on Friday night, will provide much more quality time at the back end of year for club games. Counties can resume training from January 15, if they choose.

"At the moment our priority is trying to settle the calendar in favour of a better club programme," he said.

Division 3 and 4 football teams, after promotion/relegation has been decided in next year's competition, will play in the Tailteann Cup if they fail to reach their provincial finals but 2020 provincial champions will be excluded, giving Cavan, Tipperary and even Mayo, if they were relegated from Division 2, reprieve to continue to compete for the Sam Maguire Cup.

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The GAA’s director of games, club and player welfare Feargal McGill

The GAA’s director of games, club and player welfare Feargal McGill

The GAA’s director of games, club and player welfare Feargal McGill

McGill said there were far more compelling reasons to go with inter-county games initially as clubs may not be able to play games in the first quarter anyway due to restrictions.

Under any plan to go with clubs first, county championships would have to have been completed by the end of April/early May to accommodate a provincial club championship.

"We decided we had no option but to go with county first because you're probably doing the right thing by 450,000 people rather than by 2,000 people. It's almost as simple as that."

The GAA will also seek State aid to run the games as crowds are unlikely to return in the earlier part of the year, McGill confirmed.

"Obviously everyone in sport is looking for help, it's not just the GAA at the moment. Down the road, I've no doubt those conversations will take place," he said.

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