MUNSTER Senior League players returned to training this week ahead of the kick-off to the 2021/22 season which will kick off at the end of June.
MSL action will resume on the weekend of June 26/27/28, starting with the Keane Cup and Junior League Cup, with the competitions reverting to a round-robin series of games, its traditional format until both cups were played on a knockout basis for the past few seasons.
The league's management committee made the decision to cancel the 2020/21 season following an online meeting with clubs last Thursday evening, all of which were informed of the league's decision on Saturday.
In the wake of what league chairman John Finnegan described as a 'very positive meeting in which everyone had their say', the feedback from the clubs was that the most important step forward was to get back playing as soon as possible.
“That was the main point that emerged from last Thursday's meeting, getting teams back on the pitch, with player welfare also being an important point that was made,” explained Finnegan.
A June return was always going to happen; there remained only the decision of which option to take – complete the current season or start afresh and the consensus was to discontinue the current season and begin a new campaign.
The decision to start in June will bring an end to a near nine-month spell without local football, in effect the length of a full season, and the league and its member clubs were keen to get back to playing as soon as possible.
“Waiting until August to restart was never an option, as players have been away from football for far too long as it is.
“If we had continued with the current season, teams would have had to play two or three times a week and it wouldn't be right to ask teams to do that after such a long lay-off. Most teams had only a third of their league games played.
“We also understand that some teams may be disappointed at having the season cancelled again, but we had to make a decision for all the teams; it was a fine balancing act.
“We will start with Keane Cup snd Junior League Cup. The plan is that teams will play just one game a week and we will play both competitions to a finish.” “There will be eight groups for both competitions and if a team is eliminated at the group stages we will try to ensure they still have games throughout July and August.” The management committee is due to meet again on Thursday to iron out some of the details and it will meet the clubs again on May 27 where they will be provided with more details, including a three to four-week fixtures plan.
Registration of teams will start on June 1, pending approval from the FAI, and Finnegan admits that given that that there will a lot of registration in such a short space of time, they will need the co-operation from clubs to ensure they will be registered on time.