Cork hurlers and footballers set for February return; clubs play from July

Cork hurlers and footballers set for February return; clubs play from July

Action from the Cork and Derry league game at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last March. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE Cork hurlers and footballers will be in league action from the last weekend in February, as the inter-county season goes ahead before the 2021 club campaign throws-in on July 25.

There are also plans to run the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups, along with the Corn Uí Mhuirí and Harty Cup, early next year, as well as completing the minor and U20 series. Cork face Tipp in the Munster hurling decider next Wednesday, with the winner straight into the All-Ireland final against Galway or Dublin on January 9/10.

Cork club teams who are still in championship action will complete their outstanding matches, including a host of football finals, from February onwards.

The finals will pencilled on for March 5-7, at the earliest, following a Cork County Board executive decision made in October, with junior A, B and C ties on hold until February 5-7. 

That is, of course, all dependent on the government's Covid restrictions at the time.

For now, collective senior inter-county training is officially permitted from January 15.

The football league is on a reduced regional basis, all four division split in two based on geography. 

That means Cork join Clare, Laois, and Kildare in Division 2 South, with Mayo, Down, Meath and Westmeath in Division 2 North.

Each team will have three round games, the top two in each divisional group qualifying for the semi-finals. The bottom two in each divisional quartet will go into relegation semi-finals. 

The Allianz Hurling League top flight will be run as before, only the top team in 1A and 1B will face off in the final. Cork are in the stronger section with Limerick, Waterford, Tipp, Galway and Westmeath

For championship, the round-robin provincial hurling format is gone, as is the Super 8s, so both the Liam MacCarthy and Sam Maguire Cups will be on a qualifier basis.

However, the Tailteann Cup will go ahead for football counties in Division 3 and 4 teams per the 2021 rankings who don't reach their provincial finals, which was put on hold this year.  As provincial champions, Cavan and Tipp are set to in the Sam Maguire Cup even if they don't get promoted from Division 3 in the spring. 

The All-Ireland hurling final has been set for July 10-11, the football a week later.

The 2021 U20 football championship is from March to early May, in line with the traditional U21 slot, with hurling going from May 22 to July 10. Minor championships are set to take place from March 22 to May 22/23, to finish before any second-level state exams.

The exclusive club window starts from July 25 with county championships expected to conclude by October 24 with provincial club championships running from October 16 to November 28 and the All-Ireland semi-finals in December followed by the finals in January.

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