By Brendan McTaggart
Big news came out of Croke Park this morning as the recommendations for the inter-county competitions were endorsed by An Coiste Bainistíochta. It’s the news Darren Gleeson and Lenny Herbinson have been waiting on as they long to restart their season after the club championship.
Both sides will obviously be keen on resumption and almost rueing the fact their seasons were prematurely ended. But looking ahead, it’s ‘Big Matches’ everywhere you turn for our senior county teams as they resume in mid-October.
Herbinson’s men have an eager eye on promotion from Division Four with two massive league games remaining. They travel to Wicklow on 17/18 October while welcoming Waterford to the county a week later.
While it was confirmed there will be no league finals, the top two will gain promotion. Antrim currently sit in second place and their fate in their own paws. They know that two wins will have them plying their trade in Division Three in the 2021 season but while Waterford will still have to be looked after, the match against Wicklow is massive. Anything other than a win against the Garden County and we’re looking for favours from elsewhere.
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The Ulster Championship has been retained despite calls for an open draw. In what is the toughest of the four provincial championships, Antrim have suffered a blow after it was announced there would be no back door for the coming year. Straight knock-out and a throw back to yester-year.
There is no doubt it will add something more to the intensity of the championship and the atmosphere will be electric, the safety net of ‘another chance’ is gone. The introduction of the new Tailteann Cup has been postponed so all eyes will be on the CCC ‘s announcement in the coming weeks for a date and venue. We lay in wait for the winners of Monaghan and Cavan in the Quarter Finals and the possibility of a Semi Final with the winners of Fermanagh and Down. Maybe a one off game will help the Saffs this year?
Darren Gleeson’s men still have a league final to play. The Kingdom will come but no venue has been chosen as yet. A place in Division 1b the prize and a date of 17/18 October has been set – a clash with the footballer’s trip to Wicklow. Hopefully the CCCC will be kind and have them on separate days that weekend.
The McDonagh Cup retains the league format of the past two years and the added incentive of the final being played before the Liam McCarthy Final on December 13. Yes, if Antrim manage to navigate the stormy paths of the group phase, we have an early Christmas present of playing in front of a packed out Croke Park.
The draw back to this is no entry to the Liam McCarthy for the McDonagh Cup winners but that’s a huge incentive and one some might say should have been there in the first place.
Here’s a brief look at the fixtures:
24/25 October vs Westmeath (h)
31 October/1 November vs Carlow (a)
14/15 November vs Kerry (h)
28 November vs Meath (a)
Who’s dreaming of Croke Park at Christmas?