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'Knockout format is the only way to save season' - Why GAA could revert to old structure in 2020

Farrell calls on the GAA to return to championship structures of yesteryear

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Cyril Farrell. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Cyril Farrell. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Cyril Farrell. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Galway hurling legend Cyril Farrell believes that reverting back to knockout games is "the only logical solution" to completing the 2020 championship within the calendar year if the GAA eventually gets the all-clear to resume activities.

The coronavirus pandemic is threatening to wipe out GAA action for the rest of the year but should things progress over the coming months, Farrell envisages radical change to the championship structure and he is expecting things to go back to the future.

Farrell, who guided the Tribesmen to All-Ireland SHC titles in 1980, '87 and '88, feels that knockout games will be the only way to ensure that the races for Liam MacCarthy and Sam Maguire are completed this season.

"The leagues are gone, there'll be no league and that won't be finished. They'll be hoping to start the championship at some stage but knockout is the way to do it. They won't want it but that'd be the only logical thing to do with the way things are, but we'll be lucky to get any hurling at all this year," Farrell said.

"You'll also find that when players have to do it, they'll be able to play Sunday after Sunday. There will be no big gaps in the championship like other years. You'll find that players will be well able to play it, there'll be no choice in the matter.

"It'd be very exciting, it'd be great. When they have to do it in the league, they can play every week. Players themselves, unless they're injured, they love matches and the games are far easier than the training. That's what you'll have to do if you have hurling this summer."

The renowned 'Sunday Game' pundit also reiterated the importance of the GAA and community spirit during this difficult period and the necessity for "everyone to play their part".

"It just shows you that we're not masters of our own destiny and how things can be brought to a halt. Communities are pulling together again and OK, we all fight for our counties but this is a different thing, this is fighting for your country," he said.

"There's no doubt, everyone pulls together and does what they have to do. Everyone has to play their part, it's a full team effort, a full population."

Meanwhile, Mayo GAA has suspended its financial levy on clubs for March and April in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mayo clubs have to pay up to €7,000 annually because of debts relating to the redevelopment of MacHale Park, with the Mayo county board servicing a substantial Croke Park loan. A statement said the move "will be reviewed next month".

Elsewhere, the GAA has cancelled the ever-popular Féile competitions for U-14 competitors in Gaelic football, hurling, ladies football, camogie, rounders and handball for the same reason.

Irish Independent