Dates confirmed for start of Offaly club championships

First round games in the Offaly club football championships are set to take place from Friday, July 24 to Sunday, July 26.

And it has been confirmed that the hurling championships will kick off the following weekend: Friday, July 31 to Sunday, August 2.

The Offaly SFC final has been pencilled in for Sunday, September 20, with the SHC decider to take place on Sunday, September 27. This will allow for replays, if necessary, before the commencement of inter-county action in October.

"Obviously, it was not possible to complete the Offaly GAA championships as originally planned, so several changes were agreed. Clubs will still have three group games in each code, but the ‘criss cross’ is gone in football and groups have been reduced from eight teams to four in hurling," said a statement from Offaly GAA.

Ferbane will open the defence of their senior football title against Edenderry (Group 1), while Rhode will face Clara in the opening round of Group 2. The Rhode v Clara game will be a repeat of last year's highly controversial semi-final clash between the clubs.

The top two teams in each group will advance to the semi-finals (there will be no quarter-finals), with the winner of Group 1 facing the runner-up in Group 2 and vice versa.

The bottom team in each group will face other in the relegation play-off.

In the SHC, St Rynagh's, holders of the Sean Robbins Cup (pictured above), will meet Belmont in the first round. Meanwhile, 2019 finalists Birr will take on Kilcormac-Killoughey in their opening fixture.

The original plan to have eight-team groups in the Senior, Senior 'B' and Intermediate hurling championships has been shelved. Instead, there will be two groups of four teams in each case, with the top two in each group progressing to the semi-finals.

Extra-time and 'winner on the day' regulations will apply to championship semi-finals. If county finals end in a draw, a replay will take place within seven days.

Although there had been some speculation about the possibility of knockout championships due to time constraints, Offaly's management committee was not in favour of such an approach.

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