Limerick boss Diarmuid Mullins suggests March finish for minor and U20 games

Limerick manager Diarmuid Mullins believes minor and U20 championships can still be concluded in March.

Limerick minor hurling manager Diarmuid Mullins has suggested the remaining fixtures in the All-Ireland minor and U20 hurling championships be run off in mid-March, with the respective finals played as a St Patrick’s Day double-header.

Minor and U20 inter-county games are not permitted under Level 5 restrictions and so the GAA’s plan of finishing the 2020 All-Ireland MHC, All-Ireland MFC, and All-Ireland U20HC this month has had to be shelved.

Croke Park have stated their desire to finish the various underage championships when possible, but have yet to bring forward new dates.

With three games remaining in the All-Ireland MHC (Kilkenny-Offaly Leinster final, Galway-Limerick All-Ireland semi-final, and the All-Ireland final), Mullins has proposed their All-Ireland semi-final against Galway and the Leinster decider be played on Wednesday, March 10, with the final taking place a week later on St Patrick’s Day.

Mullins further recommended the minor final be played alongside the All-Ireland U20 hurling decider. There are two games remaining in the latter competition, the Galway-Dublin Leinster final and the All-Ireland final.

“Would it be a bad idea to look at March 10 for the All-Ireland minor semi-final and the Leinster minor final to be played, as well as the Leinster U20 hurling final, and then a St Patrick’s Day double-header for the minor and U20 finals. It might be more realistic in terms of timeframe,” said Mullins whose Limerick team were crowned Munster champions on December 20.

The GAA have a good track record in terms of finishing competitions. I know we are in a very uncertain time and nobody can predict the future and how things are going to work out, but for young players, [Croke Park] could bring some clarity.

“I appreciate there are way more important situations developing within society. This is a minor matter in the overall scheme, but I think if you pushed it out to a more realistic date such as March, you might be in a situation where if we got through January and February then there might be a chance of lads being able to prepare for seven or eight days before those games, getting them played, and finishing that competition. But look, that might not be possible. It may have to conclude as it is and we are just so fortunate to have got the opportunity to finish out the Munster championshi

The young people at the moment, there is not a huge amount they can look forward to. The March dates are only a suggestion that might bring clarity and a bit of certainty to these competitions, but again, we mightn’t be in a position to play those games on those suggested dates the way the situation is at the moment.

The 2020 All-Ireland MFC is not as advanced as the minor or U20 hurling championships. The Ulster MFC is only at semi-final stage, while the Leinster decider has still to be played, meaning there are four rounds remaining before an All-Ireland champion can be crowned. Both the Connacht and Munster MFC were concluded on Christmas week.

The 2021 All-Ireland minor championships have been given a window from March 20/21 to May 22/23 for completion.

As principal of Crescent College Comprehensive in Limerick, Mullins is also dealing with uncertainty on the educational front. If schools are to remain closed beyond next Monday, Mullins says a “realistic” reopening date must then be set down.

“Everyone agrees that young people need to be in [the school] environment, even for their social development and for the structure that school provides for them, but equally, staff and all members of the school community have to be very, very sure that as a workplace it is safe for people to carry out their duties.

“I would be hopeful the decision on reopening would be made early enough this week to allow people time to adjust and I would hope that if the reopening date had to be pushed out again, we’d be looking at a realistic date that we could reopen.