The GAA will finally confirm the structure for the 2021 club and inter-county calendar early next week.

RTÉ Sport understands that the 2021 season will commence with inter-county first, with the championship series running until the middle of July.

From there, club championships will commence and will incorporate county, provincial and All-Ireland series until mid-December when All-Ireland club football semi-finals will be held.

It's expected the template will be unveiled on Monday after weeks of intense debate and scrutiny at executive and management level.

Having been set for launch three weeks ago, the template was put on hold as concerns were expressed about the financial viability of staging an inter-county season first with the ongoing lack of gate receipts a huge concern for some.

With tight public health restrictions also expected through January, the prospect of going with club first was considerably weakened.

And following a period of reflection and further consultation with county chairpersons and management committee last weekend, an 8pm meeting of Central Council tonight gave the green light to kickstart the 2021 campaign with inter-county action.

It's understood that this will see the return of county teams to pre-season training on the weekend of 16-17 January.

And it is expected that the Allianz Leagues will begin on the weekend of 27-28 February, with the football divisions divided in two on a regional basis.

This will see Dublin, Galway, Roscommon and Kerry grouped together in a Division One group with the four Ulster teams - Monaghan, Tyrone, Donegal and Armagh in the other.

Division Two will see Down, Westmeath, Meath and Mayo in one section with Cork, Clare, Laois and Kildare in the other.

Division Three will feature Derry, Fermanagh, Longford and Cavan in one section with Limerick, Wicklow, Offaly and Tipperary in the other.

Meanwhile, Division Four sees Carlow, Wexford, Waterford and London, (their participation is down to the Connacht Council) in one group with Leitrim, Antrim, Louth and Sligo in the other.

As expected, every county will have a minimum of four league games, and there will be semi-finals for a place in the decider and for relegation.

There will be no April club-only month with the intercounty season imminent at that juncture. The hurling league will see two groups of six in Division One with no quarter-finals or semi-finals. The league final will take place on the second weekend in April, a week after the football finals.

Minor and U-20 football competition will commence a month later - on the weekend of 27/28 March. 

This would allow the inter-county senior football championship to start on 17-18 April with the hurling championship commencing a week later. The U-20 hurling championship will run from 22 May until 10 July. 

GAA President John Horan speaking about the Tailteann Cup in February at Congress

It is believed that a backdoor will be available to counties in both hurling and football.

It is likely that the 2021 All-Ireland minor hurling and finals will be played on 22-23 May.

The Tailteann Cup final (second-tier football championship) is also in the template and set to be played at the end of June with the All-Ireland hurling final down for the weekend of 10-11 July – the same weekend that the Under-20 hurling final takes place.

The All-Ireland senior football will be fixed for the weekend of 17-18 July.

A week later, on the 24-25 July, the club county championships will commence.

The start of the provincial club championships is down for the 16-17 October, running through until the start and middle of December when the hurling and football club semi-finals respectively will be played.

Last Friday night, the clear majority of county chairpersons favoured this template. 

It was presented to the GAA Management Committee last Saturday and, again, received the green light at tonight's Central Council meeting.

Two comprehensive plans had been initially compiled – one draft focusing on playing inter-county first, while the other templated revolved around a club-first system would like.

But with those public health restrictions expected once again throughout the early stages of the new year, running a club championship would have been exceptionally problematic as only elite athletes could compete under Level 5 restrictions.

A club-first 2021 season would have seen teams return to full contact training in late February and play right through until the All-Ireland club finals which would have been played on 14/15 August.

The inter-county season would have commenced on 31 July and concluded in late December.

However, the huge support for a county-first approach was again reflected at tonight's meeting and an official GAA announcement heralding the intercounty start is due early next week.

Meanwhile, the GAA's standing playing rules committee also made a number of recommendations to tonight’s Central Council meeting.

These are set to be adapted as motions ahead of the 2021 Annual Congress in February.