SPRINGTIME in bloom brings a welcome return to GAA action in Warwickshire as the County Board signals the return to matches in the Midlands.
After an abridged season in 2020, this year brings the potential of a near-full calendar building up to the county final on Sunday, September 19.
Unfortunately, it will not be possible for spectators to attend games at this early stage but as part of the gradual relaxing of restrictions over the coming weeks those restrictions are expected to be removed.
Additionally, due to the ongoing Covid restrictions Croke Park has omitted Warwickshire from the National Hurling League and Rackard Cup competitions for this season.
Nonetheless, there will opportunities for the four clubs fielding hurling panels this season with the Houlihan Cup preceding a league competition and further opportunities at provincial level with the return of the All-Britain Hurling Championship in September.
On the football front, the action gets underway this Sunday, April 25, with cup competitions serving as a taster for the return of the league and championship.
Sean McDermotts return in the quarter-final of the Fr. Forde Cup against St. Barnabas, while in the other quarter-final there is an immediate return to action for John Mitchels and Roger Casements as they meet for the first time since the aftermath of their championship semi-final last year.
In addition to the post-match brawl, allegations of racist abuse were reported to the hearing committee of the Warwickshire County Board; a full process of sanctions and appeals to the Provincial Council continued across the winter months which ultimately saw lengthy bans handed out to members of both clubs and financial penalties incurred.
Sunday’s match will be the first game for both teams who will also meet on the first Sunday of the league season which gets underway on May 16.
Both Mitchels and Casements have been drawn in the same group for the Senior Football Championship alongside Naomh Padraig.
In a six-team competition this year, Sean McDermotts will begin the defence of their title against St. Barnabas with St. Brendans the third team in their group; the top two teams from each group advance to the semi-finals on Sunday, September 5.
Charlie O’Donnell from St. Finbarrs has been appointed to manage the inter-county football panel as the All-Britain Football Championship returns in June.
It begins with a trip to Leeds to face the defending champions Scotland before games against London and Lancashire in which Warwickshire will need to be at their best if they are to negotiate their way through to the semi-finals in July.
There is a welcome return for clubs who couldn’t participate in football last year as an eight-club intermediate campaign gets underway this Sunday with the John Scanlon Cup.
The Intermediate Football Championship for this season starts in July, with two groups of four – Four Masters, Sons of Erin, St. Finbarrs and St. Marys in Group 1 with Erin go Bragh, O’Rahillys, Rugby Gaels and St. Josephs in Group 2.
Similar to the seniors, the top two from both groups advance to the semi-finals in August.
With St. Barnabas unable to play last year’s intermediate final due to Covid restrictions in Nottingham, Wednesday, May 19 now has the re-scheduled 2020 final between Nottingham abs St Marys.
So we’re set fair for a new season in Warwickshire, with summer on the horizon it promises to be a welcome return to action for the GAA in the Midlands.
Hertfordshire GAA’s senior football league is also underway
Hertfordfshire's senior football league got underway last week with Éire Óg beating St Josephs 3-12 to 1-14 on Saturday, April 17.
The following day St Dympnas overpowered St Colmcilles 3-09 to 1-04 while Cambridge Parnells lost their match against St Vincents 2-11 to 0-03.
Three matches are scheduled for this weekend, with Éire Óg v Glen Rovers, St Vincents v St Colmcilles and St Dympnas v St Joseph’s all taking place on Sunday, April 25.
All games are being played at Radlett Road in Watford, although spectators are not currently allowed to attend.