By Niall McCoy
THE Down 2021 Football Leagues will almost certainly start on Friday, July 9 if the Mourne county lose their Ulster Championship preliminary round tie to Donegal.
Paddy Tally’s side were drawn against the Tir Chonaill county in Tuesday’s provincial draw, and the county board have developed a set of proposals for various throw-ins depending on where Down end up in the championship.
Relegation and promotion return after last year’s hiatus, while there will be no club games played without county players.
Competitive football for all teams is set to start on May 14 with the introduction of a new tournament called Corn An Dún. The top tier will see four groups of four with each section made up of two Division One teams and two Division Two teams. The four group winners will progress to the semi-finals. There will also be a version containing Division Three and Divison Four teams.
A few teams are expected to be playing even sooner than that though as Gaelic Life understands that the county are keen to finish out the finals that were scheduled for last year’s league.
Clubs received a rough draft of these proposals in recent days with ratification due at a meeting tonight. A number of club managers have indicated to Gaelic Life that while not perfect, it is a good solution to a difficult problem.
If Down beat Donegal but lose in the quarter-final, the leagues will start on July 11 if they are involved in Ulster quarter-final weekend one and on July 18 if they are involved in Ulster quarter-final weekend two. If Tally’s men exit at the semi-final stage a July 25 date has been pencilled in.
The league games are set to be completed in all divisions by September 3.