Ulster GAA boss McAvoy says coronavirus could prevent new Tier Two SFC in 2020

Brian McAvoy was appointed Ulster GAA secretary and chief executive officer in October 2016
Down man Brian McAvoy is Ulster GAA's secretary and chief executive officer

Ulster GAA's top official says the Tier Two All-Ireland football championship may be delayed until 2021.

The GAA is expected in the next few days to extend its blanket ban on all activity at every age level aimed at combating coronavirus.

Uncertainty remains over the completion of the National Leagues and the structure of this year's championships.

"The likelihood of Tier Two going ahead this year is probably less likely," said Ulster GAA secretary Brian McAvoy.

At a Special Congress last October the GAA voted to change the format of the All-Ireland football championship, with Division Three and Four teams who fail to reach a provincial final this summer thrust into a new Tier Two championship, subsequently named the Tailteann Cup.

There remains an ambition to complete the league campaigns at some stage, with outstanding promotion and relegation issues at stake for next year's competitions, but what shape the football championship will take is still to be determined.

New York v Galway already postponed

The New York v Galway Connnacht championship game on 3 May has already been postponed with the London v Roscommon tie 24 hours earlier also certain to be shelved, and more will follow.

Contingency plans are being drawn up regarding the overall fixtures calendar for 2020 and everything is in the mix.

Group stages such as the Super 8s may have to be scrapped and even the back-door qualifiers, first introduced in 2001, could be a casualty if time pressures dictate the need for a more condensed format.

"It is much too early to say," said McAvoy.

"All these things are still to be determined, we are still very much in the unknown.

"When the picture becomes clearer there may be less of a window in which to play all the games that are scheduled.

"We are looking at a number of options but it is still too early to make a definite decision."

The scene at Croke Park on St Patrick's Day last week
Croke Park is among GAA premises being used as coronavirus testing centres

GAA grounds coronavirus testing centres

The GAA has offered its grounds to the Irish government to use as Covid-19 testing centres with Croke Park (Dublin), Pairc Ui Chaoimh (Cork), Moyle Rovers (Tipperary) and Nowlan Park (Kilkenny) among those already in operation.

Grounds further north will be made available if and when requested by the Northern Ireland Executive.

"The GAA has acted as one on this and we will continue to do so," added McAvoy.

"Whatever the governments need or ask of us, they will get."

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