Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

2020 the most important National Football League ever

One of the four rule changes in the GAA for 2020 has made the 89th staging of the National Football League the most important in the competitions history. The 2020 Allianz sponsored National Football Leagues will possibly leave 16 counties unable to compete in the 2021 Championship for the Sam Maguire.

The reason for this is because of the passing of a new Tier 2 Football Championship for 2021. The new format will see the Provincial Championships played as they currently stand but the All-Ireland Qualifiers will be open only to teams from Allianz League Divisions 1 and 2 and any Division 3 or 4 teams who qualify for their Provincial Final. In essence this will mean that only two full rounds of All-Ireland Qualifiers in future as opposed to four – an additional Preliminary Round is provided for however, in years where more than 8 teams are eligible to participate in Round 1.

It is proposed to then introduce a new straight knockout Tier 2 Championship for all Division 3 and 4 teams that do not reach their Provincial Finals.

The Current League Standings 

The current league standings  listed shows exactly what counties will be involved in battling to compete for Sam in 2021.

List of Division 1 teams – All eight are secured a place in All-Ireland

Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan & Tyrone

List of Division 2 teams – Top six will secure place in All-Ireland

Roscommon, Cavan, Fermanagh, Kildare, Armagh, Clare, Westmeath & Laois

List of Division 3 teams – Only top two secure place in All-Ireland

Cork, Derry, Down, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Offaly & Tipperary

List of Division 4 teams – No teams can secure place in All-Ireland

Antrim, Carlow, Limerick, London, Sligo, Waterford, Wexford & Wicklow

Armagh needs to avoid relegation – Down need promotion

Operating out of Division Two Armagh need to retain their Divisional Status to be eligible to compete for Sam. If relegation is their fate only an Ulster Final appearance can prevent them from dropping into the straight knockout Tier 2 Championship.

Five time Sam winners Down are on an even stickier wicket than their Armagh neighbours as they need promotion out of a very tough Division Three to secure their All-Ireland place. Division Three opponents Cork (5), Offaly (3), Derry (1) Louth (1) share 10 All-Irelands with Tipperary, Longford and Leitrim still seeking their first.

List of rule changes for 2020

The 4 New Rule changes for 2020 are as follows

Two Tier Championship  

Counties competing in Division 3 and 4 of the Allianz League for 2021 will not contest the All-Ireland Football Championship. They may play in it if they reach their respective provincial final. This will lead to the bottom 16 teams of the league playing in an as-yet-unnamed second-tier competition.

GAA Mark

Players who take a ‘mark’ or clean possession inside the oppositions 45 will be rewarded with a free-kick. Players can choose to play on or signal to the referee that they wish to take the free instead. This can be brought back to the 13m line for balls caught between there and the end line. The proposal, which was trialed in the 2019 League.

Sin Bin

If a player gets a black card they will now spend will spend 10 minutes off the field. No substitute allowed, reducing his side’s numbers for that period. A second black card, or a black following a yellow, will result in a red card. The player will be sent off for the rest of the match.

Kick out rules

To try and avoid all the short kick-outs. All kick-outs must now be taken from the 20-metre line rather than the current mark of the 13m line. The ball must travel forward and all players must be at least 13m away and outside the D and 20m line when the kick is taken.