GAA release its safe return to Gaelic games plan

Leona Kenny

The GAA has released its Safe Return to Gaelic Games plan for the coming weeks ahead, with inter-county action not resuming until October.

At a virtual press conference on June 5th, the GAA, LGFA and Camogie Association released their document outlining the return to play over the summer months.

Inter county matches will start no earlier than October 17th, while club games can return from July 31st. Training in groups of ten is permitted when club pitches reopen on June 29th.

The GAA insist that their plan is consistent with the Government roadmap and each section is subject to the Government moving onto their next phase.

On June 29th, GAA pitches will open for training at both underage and adult levels. All buildings and clubhouses must remain closed, with the exception of toilets.

Training will take place in small groups, with two coaches in separate areas, until contact training can be allowed on July 20th.

Strict guidelines including a health questionnaire and temperature reading before each session have been put in place.  A distance of two meters must be kept between all players whilst following the exercises.

Only players and management will be allowed into the grounds, while underage players must be dropped and collected only at the gates. Clubs also have to appoint a covid supervisor.

On 20th July, players will be allowed to return to contact training and begin preparing for club fixtures, due to start on 31st July. More information regarding spectators and their safety should be available at this point.

There will be no access to clubhouses until August 10th, and inter-county training can resume on September 14th.

Facing criticism for delaying the return to sport, GAA President John Horan said it was necessary in order to implement these new measures.

“You have got to appreciate the large membership we have in our organisation and if we opened the pitches without training the officers and mentors on how to deal with the situation that we are dealing with, we would be making an error of judgement.

“And even though people are going to be allowed back, they will have to arrive togged out, there will be no dressing rooms used, they will have to shower at home, so while it is positive there are still considerable restrictions in place.

All steps and target dates are dependent on the virus remaining under control and the association will be guided by public health officials.

Leona Kenny 

Image Credit: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile