By Damian Dolan
London senior football manager Michael Maher says he doesn’t expect the Exiles’ Connacht Championship quarter-final with Roscommon in Ruislip to go ahead, due to the on-going coronavirus.
However, he still believes a “championship of sorts” will take place this year, and that we could even see a return to an old-fashioned knock-out system.
The suspension of all GAA activities was extended yesterday (24 March) until 19 April.
The Exiles are due to welcome the defending Connacht champions to McGovern Park on 2 May – the opening game of this year’s senior football championship.
But Galway’s trip to New York on 3 May was postponed last week, and Maher expects London’s game to follow suit.
“Do I think our game will go ahead? No – I firmly do not think it will. Whether it goes ahead at a different stage, I don’t know,” Maher told the Irish World.
While the London boss fully acknowledges that there are “far greater things” for people to be worrying about at the moment, he says a “championship of sorts” would “lift everyone’s spirits”.
“It wouldn’t matter what format it runs on this year,” he said.
GAA Director General Tom Ryan, in his 18 March Covid-19 update, said there will be “re-drawing of the national fixtures calendar for 2020 as necessitated by the ongoing disruption to the GAA games programme”.
He added: “The Association would like to reassure our members that when games activity re-commences we will provide an adequate games schedule for our players at all ages and grades.”
Maher says Ryan’s comments suggest the GAA “intend on having a championship for counties, but that clubs will also get a playing season as well”.
With the season likely to be condensed into a shorter period of time, Maher believes that we could see a reprisal of an open draw knock-out system.
“If they want a championship, a straight knock-out is the easiest way. Scrap the provincial and Super 8s, and they’ll be no Tier 2 to worry about,” he said.
Maher also anticipates that the National League will not be played to a completion this year.
While two rounds of football are still to be played, as well as divisional finals, several hurling finals also remain outstanding.
London have two outstanding fixtures to play, against Waterford and Carlow. London, Warwickshire and Lancashire’s hurlers have all completed their campaigns.
“I think you can safely say that the league is finished. I think everyone will just go back to where they were in the league next year,” said Maher.
Ryan added that the GAA is “working on a unified approach for all of our units on the issue of Games Development and Administration personnel and will be liaising with our Provincial Councils and County Committees in the coming days.
He also thanked everyone within the GAA for their “combined efforts to date”.
“These efforts have the potential to make a massive difference and it is in this vein that we ask you to continue to mobilise the GAA network and our wider membership in the interests of public health and the greater good,” he said.