The 2021 GAA season will begin with inter-county competitions. There was a big debate as to whether to run with the club or county first, although they decided that it was safer to run with the county game as that can go ahead regardless of the pandemic restrictions.
The All-Ireland hurling and football finals will take place on July 11th and 18th respectively, with the club season getting underway in August.
This is a reverse of what happened in 2020, when club championships around the country were played off before the inter-county championships got underway.
Speaking to RTÉ, GAA president John Horan explained the rationale behind the decision.
The GAA's director of player, club and games administration Feargal McGill said finishing the inter-county schedule before the club campaign begins is "a no-brainer" as the association confirmed plans to have a split season in 2021. https://t.co/NowDNeSQf2 #RTEgaa
— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) December 21, 2020
We felt that that serves the purposes of the club far better, that the overlapped features of previous times that caused difficulty would not be there.
We're not sure where we are going to be with the pandemic situation come the new year, so in that sense it was far easier to actually plan to have the inter-county first.
It will be a safer environment because even at higher levels (restrictions) we're allowed play inter-county, whereas the club scene hopefully will take off later of the year.
Hopefully at that stage, we'll have seen some light at the end of the tunnel in this pandemic.
It caused a huge debate because there are financial implications and there are the issues of supporters coming to the games. It was felt that we have to act in the best interests and that is the best interest of the association I think, to serve the club well.
While the coronavirus pandemic forced the GAA's hand on this occasion, we would not be surprised to see this format stick around for the long-term.