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Picture becoming clearer for Laois teams as GAA set out schedule for 2021

The first seven weeks of 2021 will be very quiet on the sporting front – but once the end of February comes, Laois teams are going to face a very hectic schedule under the new GAA schedule set out for next season.

Though it’s unlikely that supporters will be allowed to attend in any great numbers in the early months of the year, there will be plenty of action once things get underway again.

The inter-county action is set to be played first with a shortened National League campaign in both hurling and football, beginning on the weekend of February 27/28.

Laois hurlers will be in action on the first four weekends and will then have a week off before playing the fifth round. With no league quarter-finals this year and only the top team in each group of Division 1 reaching the final, Laois will be hoping to avoid the relegation playoff game.

Though fixture details haven’t yet been released, Laois will be in Division 1B along with Kilkenny, Clare, Wexford, Dublin and Antrim. The other group contains Limerick, Tipperary, Galway, Waterford, Cork and Westmeath.

The Laois footballers will be in Division 2 south with Cork, Clare and Kildare. The top two teams in that group will go through to the league semi-final against the top two teams in Division 2 north – Mayo, Meath, Down and Westmeath.

The bottom two teams in each group will play off against each other, with the loser of those games relegated to Division 3.

The three group games will be played on successive weekends before a two-week break to the playoffs/semi-finals.

Laois will begin their Leinster football and hurling championship campaigns on the same weekend (April 24-25) with the All Ireland hurling final pencilled in for July 11 and the football a week later on July 18.

Once again this year, there will be no round robin format in the hurling championship, instead operating with a back door similar to the 2020 season.

In the Leinster hurling championship, Kilkenny and Galway, as this year’s provincial finalists, will be given a bye into the semi-final with Laois, Wexford, Dublin and Joe McDonagh champions Antrim meeting in the quarter-finals.

The losers of the Leinster quarter-finals will meet each other in a game that will be Round 1 of the All Ireland Qualifiers and the relegation playoff.

In the football championship, Laois will have a bye to the Leinster quarter-final but their league placing could come into play for the new Tailteann Cup, second tier competition.

If Laois are relegated from Division 2 and fail to make a provincial final they wouldn’t play in the All Ireland Qualifiers and instead go into the new competition.

The outstanding 2020 Laois championships will be played in June or July before the 2021 club campaigns get underway.

The U-20 football championship is scheduled to start at the end of March with minor hurling and football and U-20 hurling to be played in the spring as well – though the early rounds aren’t detailed in the fixture plan released.

The All Ireland minor finals are fixed for May 22-23 while the U-20 football final is in for May 1-2 and the U-20 hurling final will be a curtain raiser to the senior hurling final.

Laois GAA secretary Niall Handy has previously said that he hopes that the local club leagues can get underway again at the end of March.

2021 GAA Calendar

February 27-28 

  • Allianz Hurling League Round 1
  • Allianz Football League Round 1

March 6-7

  • Allianz Hurling League Round 2
  • Allianz Football League Round 2

March 13-14

  • Allianz Hurling League Round 3
  • Allianz Football League Round 3

March 20-21

  • Allianz Hurling League Round 4

March 27-28

  • Allianz Football League Semi-finals/playoffs
  • U-20 Football Round 1

April 3-4

  • Allianz Football League Finals
  • Allianz Hurling League Round 5
  • U-20 Football provincial quarter-finals

April 10-11

  • Allianz Hurling League finals/playoffs
  • U-20 Football provincial semi-finals

April 17-18

  • Leinster SFC Round 1
  • U-20 Football provincial finals

April 24-25

  • Leinster SFC quarter-finals
  • Leinster SHC quarter-finals
  • All Ireland U-20 Football semi-finals

May 1-2

  • All Ireland U-20 Football final

May 8-9

  • Leinster SFC semi-finals

May 22-23

  • Leinster SHC Final
  • All Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 1
  • All Ireland SHC Qualifiers Round 1
  • Tailteann Cup Round 1

May 29-30

  • Leinster SFC Final
  • All Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 2
  • All Ireland SHC Qualifiers Round 2
  • Tailteann Cup Quarter-finals

June 5/6

  • Tailteann Cup semi-finals

June 12/13

  • All Ireland SFC Qualifiers Round 3
  • All Ireland SHC Quarter-finals

June 19/20

  • All Ireland SFC Quarter-finals

June 26-27

  • All Ireland SHC Semi-finals
  • Tailteann Cup Final

July 3-4

  • All Ireland SFC Semi-finals

July 10-11

  • All Ireland SHC Final

July 17-18

  • All Ireland SFC Final

July 24-25

  • Club championships commence

SEE ALSO – Talking Sport Podcast: End of year Laois GAA review