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GAA confirms October start for Championship following government support

The All-Ireland SFC will begin on Saturday, October 31 Picture by Philip Walsh
Padraig O Meiscill

THE GAA has confirmed that the 2020 All-Ireland football and hurling Championships will go ahead after receiving assurances of financial support from the Dublin government.

The confirmation came after the association joined forces with the FAI and the IRFU to prepare a submission for government on the safe return of supporters to stadiums across the country. Fans have been banned from attending games in the south for the last month while a maximum of 400 spectators have been allowed at GAA club games in the north.

In a statement on Saturday, the GAA's Ard Comhairle said it had decided that plans to stage the Championships would go ahead “following positive interaction with the government and an understanding that specific financial supports will be made available”.

In June, then Minister for Sport Shane Ross said that up to €40 million would be provided to the three major sporting associations, if necessary, to ensure their "solvency and continued existence" as the coronavirus pandemic brought all sporting activity to a halt. The GAA has estimated that running the Championships in both codes at senior, U20 and minor level would cost in the region of €20 million.

There will be no overseas involvement in this year's Championships, meaning Roscommon will receive a bye into the Connacht SFC semi-finals, which will be run on a straight knockout format. The All-Ireland SFC will throw-in on Saturday, October 31, while the SHC begins a week earlier and will feature a back-door qualifying system.

The GAA statement added that, "due to the reduced level of funding available as a result of the pandemic, a series of strict financial controls will be put in place by the association which will govern the costs and preparation of teams". This is expected to include a limit on collective training sessions to three per week and a ban on training camps.

The Dublin government is to publish its long-term Covid-19 roadmap tomorrow and speculation increased over the weekend that a limited number of supporters would be permitted as part of the plan.

“The FAI, GAA and IRFU met today to discuss a collaborative approach to the development of a submission to government on a roadmap for the safe return of supporters to stadia,” read a statement released by the three governing bodies at the weekend.

"It has been agreed that a further meeting will be held early next week, following the publication of the government's new roadmap for living with Covid-19. This meeting will consider how the three governing bodies move forward together."

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