Friday 30 September 2016

Football leagues set to do away with early three-week break

Published 13/09/2016 | 02:30

Meath manager Andy McEntee Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Meath manager Andy McEntee Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

The three-week break in the Allianz Football League will not be in place for the 2017 competition if the draft fixtures plan is accepted by counties.

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In the past, football league games have traditionally been shelved for three weeks (two weekends) after the opening two rounds before four consecutive rounds are played off.

But for 2017 the break in February will be for just two weeks (one weekend) with a further break after the third and fourth rounds before three consecutive rounds ahead of the finals in mid-April.

The hurling leagues will have an earlier start, throwing in on the second weekend of February, the same weekend as the second round of football league games.

The first two hurling rounds will be played on back-to-back weekends in February before a two-week break. The third and fourth rounds will also go ahead on back-to-back weekends before a further two-week break ahead of the final round.

Current All-Ireland football champions Dublin have been drawn away to Cavan on the opening weekend, a Sunday afternoon fixture.

Mayo and Monaghan will get the programme underway in MacHale Park on the Saturday evening.

Dublin will have three home games, against Tyrone, Mayo and Roscommon. It's anticipated that the Tyrone and Mayo games will be double-headers with the hurlers, who meet All-Ireland champions Tipperary on the opening night of the hurling league, and Waterford in the third round.

Tipperary and Kilkenny will repeat their All-Ireland final on Saturday, March 11 in Semple Stadium.

The new Roscommon football manager will have a tough campaign with four away games, including an opener in Tyrone. Donegal at home, Mayo away and Kerry at home doesn't leave much room for error.

Newly-promoted Cavan will be on the road to Monaghan and Tyrone after they host Dublin in Kingspan Breffni Park.

In Division 2, Division 3 champions Clare have a tough start away to Derry, while new Meath manager Andy McEntee is planning for a home derby against Kildare.

London will play all their Division 4 matches away as their home ground in Ruislip continues to undergo redevelopment.

The draft fixtures, circulated to counties in recent days, are subject to change before a final document is published.

Irish Independent

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