Offaly minor dual player, Cormac Egan.
OFFALY minor and U-20 footballers and hurlers will receive byes in the 2021 Leinster championships. The draws will be made by Leinster Council on Thursday morning and they have adjusted their usual format to allow for the completion of the 2020 championships.
Offaly are in both the 2020 Leinster Minor Football and Hurling Championship finals. Fixtures were made for these last week.
The minor football final between Offaly and Meath will take place in Mullingar on Wednesday June 30 while the minor hurling final between Offaly and Kilkenny is in Portlaoise just three days later in Saturday, July 3.
Central Council drew up dates for the All-Ireland series in the outstanding 2020 championships last week as well as the 2021 ones.
Offaly's fate in the 2020 finals will dictate the extent of their byes in some of the 2021 championships. Many of the 2020 minor teams will be immediately drafted into the county U-20 football and hurling squads while others are still eligible for minor this year.
It made it necessary to make allowances for the minor finals. In Leinster U-20 hurling, Offaly have received a bye into the quarter-final on July 13 and the U-20 footballers have also got a bye into the quarter-finals, on July 8. Offaly minor hurlers have received a bye into the semi-finals on July 1. The runners-up of the Leinster minor football final between Offaly and Meath will play in the 2021 quarter-fiunal on July 10 while the winners will go straight into the semi-final on July 24.
The fixtures were made after relaxed Covid-19 restrictions allowed underage games to go ahead. The 2020 finals were supposed to be played in early January but were postponed after the Government enforced a lockdown amid alarm at growing Covid-19 numbers.
The counties had been told that the finals would be fixed as soon as regulations allowed them to do so. They will take place after the Leaving Certificate results.
It will be a particularly busy few days for Offaly dual star Cormac Egan. The Tullamore man has been in outstanding form for both minor footballers and hurlers but the three days gap is considerably better than what he was facing in January – the finals were fixed on consecutive days with the minor hurling first up but now football will have first use of his very valuable services.
Offaly have another dual player in Belmont's Patrick Taaffe. Injury would have ruled Taaffe out of the original fixtures but the long delay has given him time to recover – Taaffe had been excellent for the Offaly minor hurling defence in their win over Laois.
Both squads have been working on their own in recent weeks and will now be allowed back into collective training. It is Offaly's first time in a while to make a real impact at these grades and there is optimism that they can collect at least one title.
The 2020 Leinster minor hurling champions will go straight into the All-Ireland final and that adds to the importance of the Offaly v Kilkenny clash. The Leinster champions play Ulster in the 2020 All-Ireland minor football semi-final.
The delay has made a big difference in terms of the physicality of players. Many of the Offaly players in both squads have noticeably grown and developed in the past few months and will now be akin to the old minor grade in terms of physicality – it was changed from U-18 to U-17 a couple of years ago.
The fixtures for the All-Ireland series are as follows:
Week of July 3rd/4th
2020 Electric Ireland GAA Hurling All-Ireland Minor Championship Semi-Final
(Luimneach v Gaillimh)
Week of July 10th/11th
2020 Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling All-Ireland U20 Championship Final
(Leinster v Corcaigh)
2020 Electric Ireland GAA Hurling All-Ireland Minor Championship Final
(Leinster v Semi-Final Winner)
2020 Electric Ireland GAA Football All-Ireland Minor Championship Semi-Finals
(Connacht v Munster; Leinster v Ulster)
Week of July 17th/18th
2020 Electric Ireland GAA Football All-Ireland Minor Championship Final
Week of July 31st/August 1st
2021 Eirgrid GAA Football All-Ireland U20 Championship Semi-Finals
(Connacht v Ulster; Leinster v Munster)
Week of August 7th/8th
2021 GAA Hurling All-Ireland U20 Championship Final
(Leinster v Munster)
Week of August 14th/15th
2021 Eirgrid GAA Football All-Ireland U20 Championship Final
2021 Electric Ireland GAA Hurling All-Ireland Minor Championship Semi-Final
(Leinster v Gaillimh)
Week of August 21st/22nd
2021 Electric Ireland GAA Hurling All-Ireland Minor Championship Final
(Munster v Semi-Final Winner)
2021 Electric Ireland GAA Football All-Ireland Minor Championship Semi-Finals
(Connacht v Leinster; Munster v Ulster)
Week of August 28th/29th
2021 Electric Ireland GAA Football All-Ireland Minor Championship Final
Meanwhile the Leinster Senior Football Championship clash between Offaly and Louth has been fixed for Navan on Sunday, June 27. O'Connor Park will host the meeting of Carlow and Longford on the same day while Wicklow have home venue against Wexford in Aughrim.
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