'No pressure should be put on any player to go back training at present...'

'No pressure should be put on any player to go back training at present...'
Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald isn't concerned about rushing back to action, even if that means no action this year. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

LIKE a lot of sports organisations, the pathway to a full return to action for ladies football is still unclear.

If and when games will return is still undecided, with many feeling there may be no return at all this season.

Whilst that is the last thing all involved want the health and welfare of players, the management of teams and their family members must be taken into consideration at all times.

With this in mind the LGFA issued a statement regarding the return to action and what they see happening in the short and medium-term.

The statement said: The Ladies Gaelic Football Association has noted and studied the publication of the Road Map for reopening the country, issued by the Government.

The LGFA will continue to engage and work closely with the relevant authorities and the GAA in relation to all matters.

The LGFA has at all times adhered to the safety guidelines issued by the Government and health authorities and will continue to do so.

The Management Committee of the LGFA’s Central Council met remotely and in light of the current situation, it was agreed to change the registration date for 2020 to August 1, in an effort to assist clubs.

The registration dates for 2021, 2022, and 2023 will be July 1, June 1, and April 1 respectively.

The TG4 All-Ireland Championship will not take place in the format and timeline as planned — and further clarification will be issued on this shortly.

LGFA CEO Helen O’Rourke said: “I thank all of our members for their ongoing and continued support in these challenging times, and I compliment them for the tremendous work they are carrying out within their local communities.

“I urge all of you to continue to adhere to the current guidelines in place — and stay safe.

“While we must plan for the future, the health and safety of our members is our main priority at the present time.”

Cork senior ladies football manager, Ephie Fitzgerald agrees with this decision and said health is far more important.

“I will not put the health of any of the players or team management at risk, its’ as simple as that as far as I am concerned,” said Ephie.

“There is no way pressure should be put on any player to go back training, even in small groups at present.

“I think the LGFA are doing the right thing and I agree with their stance so far. I can’t see us playing any games this year with the social distancing rules so what’s the point in talking about going back training and putting the players under pressure to do so.

“Their health, the health of the management team and all their families is paramount and for now I would even consider going back."

Ephie Fitzgerald speaking to his players following the league opener. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ephie Fitzgerald speaking to his players following the league opener. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Meanwhile, the Ladies Gaelic Football Association can reveal the findings of an extensive consultation process with key stakeholders.

Last weekend, the LGFA sought the views of county and club players, county managers, club and county board officers, and referees, through surveys.

Following the survey, the LGFA said it hopes to be in a position to play some club and inter-county games this year, subject to public health guidelines.

As it is unlikely that inter-county games will be played before October at the earliest, the LGFA is now recommending that inter-county training should cease for now, and only resume when it is advised to do so.

The LGFA will continue to adhere to best practice in relation to Covid-19, and the association will be guided at all times by the Government and public health authorities.

When the situation becomes clearer, there will be a phased resumption of training at both club and county levels, to allow players to prepare for a return to play.

The LGFA will work closely with the GAA in the formulation of these return-to-play protocols, which will be activated only when it is safe to do so for all involved.

LGFA President Marie Hickey commented: “I would like to thank all of our stakeholders who engaged in the surveys that were sent out and completed last weekend.

“The various responses made for interesting reading and it was important to gauge the views of players, managers, referees, and officials.

“We all look forward to the time when we can safely return to training and playing games.

“Until then, I would once again urge all of our members to continue adhering to current Covid-19 guidelines, and I wish everybody well during these challenging and unprecedented times.”

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