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 competition gets underway this weekend with defending champions Tipperary taking on the previous year’s All Ireland Champions Limerick at Semple Stadium.
Divisions 1A and 1B were formed on a merit basis for several years, with promotion and relegation between them.
2020 will now see the twelve counties involved divided into two groups of six, with each having equal status.
Three teams will qualify from each group into the knockout stages, as opposed to four as was the case before.
Tipperary and Limerick are joined by Cork, Galway, Waterford and Westmeath in Group A.
Carlow, Clare, Dublin, Kilkenny, Laois and Wexford will make up 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.
Division 2A in 2020 will include Antrim, Kerry, Mayo, Meath, Offaly and Wicklow.
The knockout stages will take place over three weekends in March with the Division 1A Final on Sunday 22nd.
This year’s Allianz Leagues will be accompanied by a new advertising campaign from Allianz with the theme of Courage Vs Fear visible in Brendan Moran’s Sportsfile imagery above.
“The Allianz Hurling League has become a highlight of the GAA calendar, consistently throwing up twists, turns and epic encounters,” said Allianz Ireland CEO Sean McGrath.
“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 everyday 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.”
“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,” added GAA Director General Tom Ryan.
“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.”
Image credit: Brendan Moran, Sportsfile