The GAA's Director of Player, Club and Games Administration Feargal McGill says it was a "no-brainer" to start with the inter-county season first in 2021.
The Allianz National Football and Hurling Leagues are due to commence at the end of February with the football set to be played with the four divisions split into two groups of four on a regional basis.
Collective inter-county training won't be permitted until January 15th with both the All-Ireland Hurling and Football finals to be played in the middle of July. That'll mean a club campaign between late July and December with the All-Ireland Club finals penciled in for January 2022.
“If you took a short-term view of this, you would say there is no guarantee we’ll be able to play club games in the first quarter of the year because they’re not allowed now," McGill explained of their decision to kick things off with the county season in the first half of the coming year.
"If you look at the longer term and if the GAA are going to bring in a split season and it will be on the agenda of Congress in February, I think the right decision is still to put the county game first.
“If you ran with the county game first, you could end up having to play county finals at the end of April, early part of May because then you have to run the provincial and All-Ireland club championships. That would have been very early for the flagship club in every club to be finished and we don’t think that would have been a good approach.
“If you ran with club first then towards the end of the club season the inter-county game with their return to training would be eating into the time available for clubs. For all those reasons, we think county first is a no-brainer, to be quite honest.”
There will be no Super 8s in the 2021 All-Ireland Football Championship while the Munster and Leinster Hurling Championships will be contested on a knock-out rather than round-robin basis.
Last season's finalists Galway and Kilkenny will be seeded for the Leinster Hurling draw and will progress directly to the semi-finals with Wexford, Antrim, Laois and Dublin contesting the quarter-finals.
The losers of those quarter-finals will meet in a qualifier with the beaten team dropping to the McDonagh Cup in 2022. There will be no relegation from the Munster Hurling Championship.
London and New York's participation in football's new second-tier Tailteann Cup will be determined in late March while it's been confirmed that reigning provincial champions Mayo, Cavan and Tipperary will be part of the Sam Maguire competition, even in they finish the coming League campaign in Division Three.
McGill added that the association are hopeful that crowds will be able to return to games in 2021 but he says the financial impact of attendances was not a factor in finalising their calendar.
“If we look at this purely from a financial basis, we’d probably have run with club first with the hope that towards the end of next year attendances would be back.
“But I think that would have been shortsighted because it wouldn’t have been in the best interests of 450,000 club players. There was certainly a financial temptation to run with club first but it just wouldn’t have been the best thing for the 450,000 club players and that has to be a priority.”