2020 Ulster MFC will be played 'at earliest possible opportunity' says Ulster GAA chief Brian McAvoy
THE 2020 Ulster Minor Football Championship will be finished out “at the earliest possible opportunity” once the green light is finally given for a return to play, according to Ulster GAA chief Brian McAvoy.
Originally scheduled to begin in April 2020, it eventually got under way on October 31. There were no more games until the quarter-finals on December 20, and it has ground to a halt since Derry, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Donegal all advanced to the last four.
With the 2021 calendar already sure to be compressed as the wait for a return to play goes on, there looks certain to be casualties as the GAA bids to cram club and county activity into the rest of the year.
Monaghan boss Mark Counihan recently called for the Ulster MFC to be prioritised as a matter of urgency, claiming the minor players of 2020 “probably feel like the forgotten group”.
McAvoy says the competition will be finished – he’s just not sure when, as question marks still surround whether the U17 and U20 grades are included in the plan for level four resumption under the Irish government’s ‘Living with Covid’ roadmap.
“Our intention is to finish that at the earliest possible opportunity – the only thing is don’t know when that is,” said the Burren man.
“Under level four of the Irish government plan it talks about inter-county – does that mean minor and U20, or does that only mean senior? We’re trying to get clarification whether than means inter-county at U17 and U20 as well. We have asked and we’re now waiting on a response.
“But the minor championship doesn’t cut across any adult club so it’s probably the easiest [to finish off].”
Meanwhile, McAvoy admits he would be sad to see the Dr McKenna Cup go if a shake-up to the current Championship structure is approved for years ahead.
Two options for significant change will go before special Congress later this year - a league-based All-Ireland series with a separate provincial Championship and a provincial Championship structure with four groups of eight teams, with the National League format remaining the same.
If neither gets the go ahead then the status quo will remain, meaning pre-season competitions such as the Dr McKenna Cup continue. However, given the existing mood for change it appears highly unlikely things will be left as they are.
“It depends what happens,” said McAvoy.
“There seems to be some consensus for change, and of course we still have to run the third year of the trial of the Super 8s – that won’t be in 2021, so hopefully it can be run in 2022 which means that any changes, if there are any, wouldn’t take effect until 2023 anyway.
“But it would be a loss. The McKenna Cup has been going since the 1920s, it’s been a great competition and it would be sad if it did have to go. But after 2016 the inter-provincials were put on temporary hold and nobody even mentions them any more unfortunately.
“It would be disappointing, but it’s to do with changing times and different formats, compared to when you had the League and a straight knockout Championship. We’ve moved away from that, the whole thing has evolved.”