With the festive period behind us the inter-county break is about to end. A re-run of last year’s All-Ireland football final will be the highlight of the opening weekend in the Allianz Football League when Dublin take on Kerry in Croke Park on Saturday, 25 January.
Fifteen other games across the four divisions will also be on the agenda that weekend for the launch of a hectic nine-week programme. A total of 112 Divisional games will be played, followed by the four finals on the weekend of March 28/29.
This campaign marks the 28th year of Allianz’ partnership with the GAA as sponsor of the Allianz Leagues, making it one of the longest-running sponsorships in Irish sport.
The Allianz Leagues are of even greater importance for teams in Divisions 3 and 4 in 2020. Positions in the table following the conclusion of the 2020 Allianz Football League means only Division 1 and 2 teams along with the two teams promoted from Division 3 will advance to the 2020 All-Ireland Qualifiers unless they reach their provincial final in the 2020 Championship. A new second-tier knockout competition will be organised for those Division 3 and 4 teams who do not advance to the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
CEO of Allianz Ireland, Seán McGrath said: “Over the past 28 years Allianz have been proud to support this wonderful competition. The 2019 Allianz Football League enthralled fans all the way to the end, with Mayo and Kerry playing out a Division 1 final for the ages, and we’re very excited to see what 2020 has in store.
“It’s fantastic to see such extensive coverage of the 2020 Allianz Leagues with partners, eirSport, TG4 and RTE all broadcasting live action this season. I would like to extend my best wishes to the management, players and fans of every county as another campaign of highs and lows gets underway.”
Uachtarán CLG John Horan added: "The return of the Allianz Leagues is a welcome moment each year for supporters nationwide as it marks the beginning in earnest of the GAA season.”
"Incredibly this is Allianz’s 28th year supporting the competitions, and with so much to play for in 2020 this promises to be one of the most competitive campaigns yet.”
"I wish all of our competing teams well and I’d like to acknowledge the ongoing support of Allianz and their CEO Seán McGrath in helping us to bring these games to the widest audience possible."
In Division 1, all eyes will be on Mayo after they claimed their first national title in 18 years with a stirring performance against Kerry in last March’s final. They begin the defence of their title away to Donegal on January 25th, the same day that Kerry travel to meet Dessie Farrell’s Dublin in a mouth-watering repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final.
Dublin and Kerry provided three brilliant contests last year, with each winning one while one was drawn. Kerry won the Allianz League clash by a point in Tralee; the All-Ireland football final was drawn, with Dublin prevailing by six points in the replay to become the first county to win the “five-in-a-row”.
The competitive nature of Division 1 is underlined by the presence of six (Dublin, Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone, Donegal, Meath) of the eight counties which reached the ‘Super 8’s’ in last year’s All-Ireland championship. The exceptions are Galway and Monaghan. Roscommon and Cork, both of whom reached the ‘Super 8s’ last year, will be bidding for promotion from Divisions 2 and 3 respectively.
Ulster (Donegal, Monaghan, Tyrone) are the best represented provinces in Division 1, with Connacht (Galway, Mayo) and Leinster (Dublin, Meath) on two each. Kerry are Munster’s only representatives.
The other provincial breakdowns are as follows:
Div 2: Leinster 3 (Kildare, Laois, Westmeath), Ulster 3 (Armagh, Cavan, Fermanagh), Connacht 1 (Roscommon), Munster 1 (Clare).
Div 3: Leinster 3 (Longford, Louth, Offaly), Ulster 2 (Derry, Down), Munster 2 (Cork, Tipperary), Connacht 1 (Leitrim)
Div 4: Leinster 3 (Carlow, Wexford, Wicklow), Munster 2 (Limerick, Waterford), Connacht 1 (Sligo), Ulster 1 (Antrim); London