Inter-county further delayed as GAA players wait in limbo

Taoiseach Michael Martin has dealt another blow to GAA players and clubs after current level 5 restrictions were extended further until 5 April.

“We have an appetite to go back and play the games, but we feel, as both a management committee and the COVID-19 advisory committee, that it’s not safe.”

John Horan – outgoing President of the gaa.

Under previous restrictions in October, inter-county teams were allowed to train in their own bubble, and an Intercounty Championship took place from October to December.

Currently under level 5 restrictions, GAA activities can’t take place – this includes inter-county teams who aren’t permitted to train until current restrictions are eased.

Outgoing GAA president John Horan commented on plans for players to resume training and matches: “If you look across the three associations there would be 106 teams there at senior inter-county level – that would be a multiple of about 5,000 players.

“We have an appetite to go back and play the games, but we feel, as both a management committee and the COVID-19 advisory committee, that it’s not safe.”

“It wouldn’t be responsible to go back at the moment looking at the level of COVID-19 cases within society,” said Horan.

Current restrictions are set to change on 5 April, where it is understood that inter-county teams will get the green light to train and return to playing matches behind closed doors.

Outgoing GAA President John Horan. Image Source: GAA.

The Senior Championship will be allowed to go ahead when the country enters level 3, while fans will be allowed back under level 2.

Ranelagh Gaels PRO Peter Sweeny expressed “hope” for getting players back on the pitch as soon as possible:

“Obviously, it was disappointing to see the inter-county not ahead, but I think everyone understands why the GAA are being conservative as the case numbers are so high at the moment.

“I hope we can get the kids back as soon as possible maybe shortly after they return to the schools it all depends on the case number – but we are hopeful and want to see them back on the pitch as soon as possible.

“We saw last year that the health questionnaire worked really well so hopefully when we are back on the pitch, the competition is as good as it was last year.

“With more and more people getting vaccinated, maybe a few people might be allowed in to watch,” said Sweeney.

The GAA will push to get kids back into action once they all return to school after Easter – this will be aided by the health questionnaire and will initially be under non-contact rules.

“I hope we can get people back playing as soon as the Government deems it safe,” Naomh Olaf club member Johnny O’Brien said. “Obviously, it wasn’t nice to hear that inter-county football is going to be delayed until April, but I completely understand the reasons as the cases are far too high at the moment.

“We are planning as a club to have all the measures in place so that when we do get the green light that things can return as safe and quick as done previously.”

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