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Wicklow ladies manager Mark Murnaghan

Wicklow ladies manager Mark Murnaghan

SPORTSFILE

Wicklow ladies manager Mark Murnaghan

Wicklow Senior ladies football manager Mark Murnaghan has welcomed the announcement of a revised format for the All-Ireland Junior Football Championship, although he warned that there would be no easy games for his side.

On Friday, June 19, the LGFA revealed the structure for the 2020 All-Ireland Championships, which are due throw-in on or around October 17, in line with the LGFA and GAA's joint 'Safe Return to Gaelic Games' protocol.

Due to London and New York's inability to take part in the championship this year, due to travel restrictions, the junior championships has been reduced to six teams: Wicklow, Antrim, Derry, Fermanagh, Carlow, and Limerick. With that in mind, the counties involved will be split into two groups of three teams, with the top two from each group progressing to the semi-finals.

The current plan is for the championship to be played out over the course of seven weekends, starting in October, with a two-week break between the group stages and semi-finals, and a further two-week break between the semi-finals and final.

'I think it is a good idea. It is probably the only thing they could have done in the timeframe they want to get it done,' Mark Murnaghan said, in reaction. 'It would be nice to get a handy group if there even is one.

'I kind of expected that New York and London wouldn't be travelling so it was bringing the number of teams down to six, but also you can't afford to have an off day.

'There are no real second chances and we just have to be primed and prepared for every game.'

Despite the government's accelerated lifting of lockdown restrictions meaning that GAA pitches will be reopening for adult training from today (Wednesday, June 24), as well as the GAA's announcement that club competitions will resume from July 17 instead of July 31, the date for the resumption of intercounty training and competitions will remain the same at September 14 and October 17, respectively.

Murnaghan said that this is something that county managers will have to get over, and that clubs needed to be looked after and prioritised.

'It is what we have to follow with the roadmap and also with the clubs on before it. There is no point in counties going back. Well, I certainly won't be going back during clubs. There will just be too much for players to do. They will be doing 11 weeks for clubs and then, hopefully, they will be doing 11 weeks with county. Hopefully, when they come back into county in September, they'll be fit enough, and we just have to touch up on a few other things.

'I am glad because it is important to allow the clubs to play. Without the clubs, there are no county players and I will be going to as many matches as possible.'

The draw for the group stage of the 2020 All-Ireland Junior Football Championship takes place on Tuesday, June 30.

Wicklow People