The revised format in Division 1 of the Allianz Hurling League will give this years competition a fresh impetus as the twelve counties involved will be separated on a different basis to previous years. The Allianz Hurling League throws-in on the 25th January, with defending champions Tipperary in action that day.
Divisions 1A and 1B were formed on a merit basis for several years, with relegation / promotion between them. 2020 will now see the twelve counties involved divided into two groups of six, with each having equal status. Only six teams will qualify for the knock-out stages, compared with eight under the previous format.
Group A is comprised of Cork, Galway, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford and Westmeath, with Carlow, Clare, Dublin, Kilkenny, Laois and Wexford in Group B.
The top team in both groups will qualify directly for the Allianz League semi-finals, with the second and third placed teams going into the quarter-finals. The bottom teams in either group will face a play-off, with the losers relegated and replaced by the 2A winners.
CEO of Allianz Ireland, Seán McGrath said: “The Allianz Hurling League has become a highlight of the GAA calendar, consistently throwing up twists, turns and epic encounters. With the revised format introduced by the GAA this season I have no doubt that 2020 will be another year to remember.
2020 also marks the 28th year of our sponsorship of the Allianz Leagues and a year where we bring the partnership to life through an exciting new brand campaign. Our ad campaign explores these every day conflicts of fear and courage and culminates in Allianz Leagues – where it takes courage to play the game of your life. This will run on TV and across a number of other channels throughout the Allianz league season.”
GAA Director General, Tom Ryan said: “2020 marks a special milestone in our longstanding support of Gaelic Games as we enter the 28th year of our relationship with Allianz as sponsors of our leagues.
“Over the course of this sponsorship, we have witnessed these competitions grow, evolve and develop at all levels and rarely, if ever, have the competitions generated the momentum they have in recent years.
“We look forward with great excitement to the opening of the 2020 season and to the years to come.”
The league gets off to an exciting start, Tipperary v Limerick is a major highlight in Round 1 as the reigning All-Ireland champions face the Allianz League champions, in Semple Stadium.
Limerick beat Tipperary by seven points in last year’s Allianz League and had twelve points to spare in the Munster final. Tipp beat Limerick by four points in the Munster ‘round robin’.
Waterford, beaten Division 1 finalists last year, begin their campaign at home to Cork. Both are under new management (Liam Cahill and Kieran Kingston respectively). Waterford last won the Allianz League in 2015 while Cork’s last success was in 1998. Tipperary last won the title in 2008 while Wexford haven’t won the title since 1973.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 25
Div 1: Group A: Tipperary v Limerick, Semple Stadium
Div 1: Group B: Laois v Wexford, MW Hire O’Moore Park.
Div 2A: Mayo v Kerry, Elverys MacHale Park
Div 2B: Roscommon v Warwickshire, Dr. Hyde Park.
Div 3B: Lancashire v Cavan, Abbotstown.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 26
Div 1: Group A: Galway v Westmeath, Pearse Stadium; Waterford v Cork, Walsh Park.
Div 1: Group B: Clare v Carlow, Ennis; Kilkenny v Dublin, UPMC Nowlan Park.
Div 2A: Wicklow v Antrim, Aughrim; Offaly v Meath, Birr.
Div 2B: Kildare v London, Newbridge; Derry v Down, Owenbeg
Div 3A: Louth v Tyrone, Darver; Donegal v Armagh, Letterkenny; Monaghan v Longford, Inniskeen.
Div 3B: Fermanagh v Leitrim, Enniskillen
Jan 25/26: Round 1
Feb 1 /2: Round 2
Feb 15/16: Round 3
Feb 22/23: Round 4
Mar 1: Round 5
Mar 7/8: Div 1 Quarter-finals; Div 1 Relegation play-off; 2A, 2B, 3A, finals.
Mar 14/15: Div 1 Semi-finals
Mar 22: Div 1 Final