The CCC have devised a games programme and the following proposals have been communicated to all the Clubs to give some ideas on what the Tyrone GAA games calendar might look like for all our players. The following is the draft of the correspondence sent out to all Club Secretaries seeking their opinions and views.
Unfortunately we face into another year of uncertainty. The shape of the GAA calendar at National level is very unclear and appears to becoming more of a problem as time passes. The starting date of the National leagues was 27th/ 28th February and not alone is the start date now an issue but no one can say for sure if there will even be a national league in 2021. So we can all be forgiven for not being clear about what things will look like in the club calendar for 2021.
Outstanding 2020 competitions
To begin with however we must address the issue of the outstanding games in last year’s competitions.
We have games outstanding in underage and adult competitions and we want to make it clear to you that we wish to conclude all competitions that had started in 2020 and were paused due to the pandemic. We aim to conclude these games at the earliest opportunity as soon as there is an indication that these games can be fixed and played. We would naturally wish to provide clubs with as much notice as possible. We thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding.
Thereafter as soon as the junior league is finalised the make-up of the 3 divisions will be clear. Assuming the 2021 Junior league is complete, there will be 18 teams in division 1, 16 in division 2 and 15 in division 3.
We have gained a lot of feedback in relation to the underage structures and that has provided a lot of clarity in relation to underage games programme. Thank you to all the clubs who took time to provide your comments, some of which were quite lengthy which demonstrates the enormous appetite and interest levels for our underage games. Your feedback is much appreciated and is extremely helpful when we formulate our games programme.
Underage Leagues and Championships
We will play leagues and championships at 13, 15, and 17 as required under rule. There was quite a bit of feedback in relation to the age grade above 17. A number of possible age grades were mentioned but the majority of those who replied have asked that we move to under 19s and so in 2021, Tyrone will organise an under 19 competition.
In hurling we will run the same age grades as above subject to discussion with hurling development committee.
The large majority of clubs who provided feedback want to play at 7.5, 9.5 and 11.5.
In hurling we will subject to discussion with hurling development committee run the leagues and championships same as last year. Hurling clubs in Tyrone have been very creative when finding games external to the county and a survey conducted 2 years ago revealed that hurling clubs in Tyrone were able to give their players more games than their footballing counterparts.
National GAA have indicated that there will be a split season with counties concluding their leagues and championships by mid-July. As you know inter county hurling and football teams are classed as elite and can unlike clubs proceed even under heightened restrictions apart from a lockdown.
With Covid numbers at record levels and the NHS under extreme unprecedented it is so difficult to predict when it will be safe to play games. With such uncertainty in mind we want to give you a few possible scenarios for adult club activity for the 2021 season.
4 x 12’s
In January 2020 it was decided to move to 4 x 12s for our football Leagues. However Covid ended this and we would suggest that with no end to Covid in sight the move to 4 x 12s will need be further postponed. To move to 4 x 12s for the 2022 season, 8 teams in division 1 would need to move to 1B and it may be deemed unfair to make this move in 2021. Therefore the assumption we use for the proposed formats as set out below are on the basis that we move back to 16 teams in divisions one and two for 2022.
Club championships will run on a knockout basis as usual. We are looking into an alternative to games being concluded on the basis of a penalty shootout.
Options for Club Leagues 2021
These options all have advantages and potential drawbacks. The landscape is constantly changing and decisions will need to be made on the basis of directions received from GAA Covid committee who update regularly.
Option A would be to have full adult leagues in senior and reserves and our usual knockout championships. In divisions 1,2,3 this would mean playing 17,15 and 14 league games respectively.
Realistically in order to fit all these games in, you would have to start your leagues in late April / May and complete them end of October subject to Provincial club championships.
Championship winners and league winners (or the second placed) league team would be promoted same as last year. It would be impractical to keep adding to the numbers in the senior and intermediate leagues so in the event of going with a full league and that we delay moving the leagues to the 4 x 12 league format for 2022 and to regain the 16 team league format, 4 teams would have to be relegated from division one in order to allow the promotion of the other two teams.
In addition with the extra 2 leagues games there is a possibility that the number of star games would need to be increased from the usual 5.
Division 1 – 2 x 9s
Division 2 – 2 x 8s
Division 3 – 1 x 8 and 1 x 7. *
Start date July (or earlier if Tyrone were to exit earlier) until early September.
* assuming 2020 Junior league is completed.
Teams to be drawn randomly to form the 2 groups and would play each other once with group winners playing for the league final. The aim would be to complete the leagues in their entirety before playing the usual knockout championship.
In order to accommodate the promotion of 2 intermediate and junior teams, 2 teams from each group of 9 or 8 would require to be relegated in order to return to the 16 team format for 2022.
There would be no star games in this format and games would begin after Tyrone complete their championship campaign.
Please note that in the GAA master calendar it is intended to have provincial club championships unlike last year.
This would consist of 3 distinct phases.
Phase 1 Developmental competition minus county players. Unlimited subs played on Friday evenings – group format as option B – senior 2 x 9s, intermediate 2 x 8s, junior 1 x 8 and 1 x 7. Teams play each other once. Indicative start date May until end of June.
Phase 2 Group leagues as per option B. July until early September.
Phase 3 Knockout championships. Preliminary round of senior championship and round one of intermediate and junior to take place 1 week after conclusion of leagues.
Option C is the exact same as option B except for a developmental competition for club players who are inactive because of the county playing in national league and the provincial / all Ireland championship.
So under option C, the league groupings for the Tyrone all county leagues as per option B would be drawn randomly first and only then would the developmental groups would be drawn. The groups for the development competition would be picked afterwards so that as many teams as possible would not be in the same groups for both competitions.
This competition would be designed to afford club players an organised competition played on Friday evenings before the main league groups would commence after Tyrone conclude their championship campaign.
In the development competition, it would be possible to have top 4 or straight to a final time permitting.
Please note that in the event that GAA activity could not resume safely then this phase of the season would not proceed and we would effectively move to phase 2 of this option.
At the 2020 AGM a suggestion was put forward by Omagh Saint Enda’s to play an additional football league made up of third’s teams. On foot of this we need to gauge the level of interest in this potential competition and we would ask you to let us know if your club would consider entering a team.
For clarity the Omagh proposal is as follows :
That given the influx of young players into the adult ranks as a result of the change of age groups that the CCC consider a Junior B league and Championship to cater for teams that would now require a third “senior” team. This competition would be open to all clubs who wish to enter a third team and may require an East/West split depending on the number of teams wishing to enter.
This competition would be played on Saturday afternoons/evenings. In addition, there needs to be a pathway for players to progress and as such, consideration may be given to the following:
Clubs name 30 players who may only play senior or reserve for their clubs. All other players are able to play with the Junior B team, reserves in addition to a maximum of 3 appearances for a senior team. If a player makes more than 3 appearances for a senior team he is no longer able to play for the junior B team. This would allow players an opportunity to play at the higher level whilst allowing for the fact that they may not be ready and are able to come down the level. Currently if a minor played 15 minutes for their senior team they are ineligible to play for the thirds team.
Games can be played 13 a side in line with current regulations. The aim of this competition is to allow younger players to cut their teeth at senior level as well as allowing more mature players the ability to play our games whilst not having to put the same commitment as would be required maybe for senior/senior reserve in a reasonably level playing field. Last year, the two thirds teams entered in Division 3 won 2 games between them with one of the wins being against the other. It is clear therefore that both clubs are using the competition for the purpose of providing players with games and they should be commended for this.
Hurling leagues, championships at underage and adult level will be discussed with hurling development committee and proceed as outlined.
Go Games for 2021 will proceed at 7.5,9.5 and 11.5.
Underage grades will be at 13,15,17 and 19.
Féile will move to under 15.
In an ideal world at adult level we would we would like to operate a normal full league (option A) and championship but it must be borne in mind that there is no certainty that full leagues could commence in time and be completed and that is why options B and C are included for your consideration.
We are conscious that clubs need clarity and would like some indication on the 2021 games programme so we have tried to include as much detail in this communication as possible and we thank you for taking the time to read and digest it. It is worth remembering that these options are based on a split season and if this was to change a full review would be needed.
Consequently we would like you to give your feedback on options A, B and C as well as the thirds competition by Sunday 31st January.