Pat Spillane says he expects this summer's All-Ireland football and hurling championships to be played off on a straight knockout basis, as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The competitions were last played in that format in 1996 in hurling, and 2000 in football, but the eight-time All-Ireland winner told RTÉ 2FM's Game On that he can see a return to the old configuration on a once off basis.

"It's almost certain, I presume, that the League is going to be discarded," he said.

"Which means Meath and Louth avoid relegation, and the bad news for Cork is that they won't get promoted.

"The second tier competition, the Tailteann Cup, that was supposed to come in later in the year, you can forget about that.

"Playing the back-door, and round-robin, and the Super 8s - I think that's all gone. My gut is that for this year, it will revert to straight knock-out, the old style, traditional Championship.

"Straight knockout, it will mean plenty of time for the clubs. You can get all the club activity finished, and it'll mean you can run off the All-Ireland Championships in a much more concise timeframe." 

Spillane won his last All-Ireland in 1986

Dublin have claimed the last five All-Ireland football titles in-a-row, a record that beat the previous four-in-a-row teams of Wexford (1915-1919) and Kerry (1929-1933 and 1978-1981).

When the backdoor was brought in for football, it was seen as a way of giving teams like Dublin, who had reached Leinster finals in 1999 and 2000, without getting over the line, a chance to extend their summers.

But the Metropolitans' recent provincial dominance, 14 titles in 15 seasons, has meant the second chance afforded by the modern format has been of little use to them, with their clashes against counties from outside of Leinster remaining straight knockout.

For Spillane, straight knockout might give weaker counties hope of a proper big scalp this summer.

"Back doors and round-robins and Super 8s favour the strong teams, because you might catch a strong county once, but you rarely catch them the second time.

"If it was a straight knockout, is there a strong chance of maybe Dublin being beaten in a once-off All-Ireland semi-final?

"Oh yes there is, far greater than that.

"The only doomsday scenario is if they follow that format, and say Kerry win Munster and Dublin win Leinster, the short straw for winning Munster is to play the Leinster Champions Dublin."

Dublin manager Tommy Carr consoles Coman Goggins after the 2000 Leinster final replay loss to Kildare

The GAA is yet to confirm what format the summer competitions will take, or whether the Allianz Leagues will be concluded before they do.

But he says that the organisation has played a positive role since the arrival of Covid-19 on Irish shores earlier this year.

"The GAA, and other sporting organisations, have been immense and have stood up to the plate," continued Spillane.

"Ní neart go cur le chéile - there is no strength without unity. That's really what you're seeing.

"We criticise Irish people, we criticise youngsters, but it's only in adversity that we realise what people are really like.

"And Irish people, over the last couple of weeks, have been absolutely magnificent."