Cork GAA: No training before July 20 with October target for any inter-county action

Cork GAA: No training before July 20 with October target for any inter-county action
Cork football manager Ronan McCarthy in front a screen showing 2020 season ticktets. How many games will fans have to attend if GAA returns? Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

GAA pitches are set to remain closed until at least July 20 and there won't be any inter-county action until October.

While the government is beginning a phased return from the Covid-19 lockdown, there won't be any formal GAA training, even in small numbers, or games before July, while competitions won't take place before the autumn.

The intention is not to take the GAA 'behind closed doors', though that might not be the GAA's decision depending on government advice.

The association has released a statement on Wednesday afternoon in light of recent developments, though there are no details yet about what type of club or inter-county championships will be feasible this year. 

They have also made the case that all inter-county training should cease. Players are trying to stay engaged with drills and fitness work via WhatsApp, Zoom and so but the uncertainty has made that extremely challenging.

"The GAA still firmly hopes to be able to play county and club competitions this year, subject of course to public health guidance. We can confirm however that no inter-county games are expected to take place before October.

"Counties are asked, in the interest of players, to suspend all inter-county training until further notice. There will be a phased resumption of training at both club and county level to allow players to prepare appropriately for playing games."

Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Trying to come up with a scenario in which sport can take place without a coronavirus vaccine is an international issue of course. Soccer clubs in England are currently struggling to agree on a format without fans to conclude the Premier League season, though German soccer is prepping for action before the end of the month.

There has been a suggestion the NBA have explored a basketball play-offs schedule at Disney World.  

The GAA statement said they "will attempt to seek clarity around some of the issues that have arisen in internal discussions since last Friday including the challenge of social distancing in contact sport."

While the temptation is to open up ball alleys and pitches, even for individuals to access them, that's not an option for now. 

"GAA facilities are to remain closed as part of efforts to prevent gatherings which breach the restrictions.

"We are instructing our clubs and counties to continue to adhere to the restrictions and to refrain from organising on-field activity. These measures are expected to remain in place until July 20.

Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

 "We will continue to monitor the dates and timelines as revealed by the Government and our arrangements will remain under constant review. Our units are reminded that the Player Injury scheme is suspended and will remain so until an official return to action protocol is confirmed.

"While not categorically ruling out the possible staging of games behind closed doors later in the year, there appears to be a lack of appetite for this type of fixture-scheduling at the current time across the wider Association."

The GAA have selected a dedicated Covid-19 Advisory Group on return to play protocols.

"The outcome of this group’s work will be a graduated approach, informed and guided by the recently published Government Roadmap and by Government policy from Stormont.

"Our units have played an important role in the community effort against the pandemic and we thank all of our members for their role in this to date.

"We also underline the importance of continuing to adhere to the guidelines to ensure that the country as a whole meets its targets in the coming weeks allowing us to make progress and facilitate a return to games when it is safe to do so."

The members of Covid-19 group are:

Shay Bannon (Chairman) - existing Chairman of Health and Safety group 

Dick Clerkin (existing Chairman of Medical Scientific and Welfare Committee) 

Dr Pat O’Neill (Dublin) 

Dr Kevin Moran (Donegal) 

Dr Jim O’Donovan (Limerick) 

Dr Seán Moffatt (Chair of Gaelic Medical Association and Mayo team doctor) 

Paul Flynn (CEO Gaelic Players Association) 

Stephen McGeehan (Head of Operations, Ulster GAA) 

Tony McGuinness (Events and Safety Manager, Croke Park) 

Sinéad McNulty (CEO An Cumann Camógaíochta) 

Helen O’Rourke (CEO Ladies Gaelic Football Association) 

John Horan (Uachtarán CLG) Tom Ryan (Ard Stiúrthóir CLG) 

Feargal McGill (Director of Player, Club and Games Administration)   

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