GAA Football

No GAA testing planned - nor sanctions for any county training date breaches

Members of the media at a socially distanced launch of the the revised 2020 Championships plan at Croke Park.
Kenny Archer at Croke Park

THE GAA does not plan to test inter-county players for Covid-19 yet remains reluctant to penalise counties for breaching the ban on training before September 14.

The capacity for the All-Ireland Senior Hurling and Football Finals, planned to take place in December - with the football decider set for Saturday 19th - will be little more than 30,000 at most, which means that any 2020 Championships will bring limited financial benefit to the Association.

As expected, the Championships will revert to the old straight knockout format, with provincial champions going into All-Ireland semi-finals. Ulster’s representatives are likely to have to dethrone Dublin, who are chasing a 10th consecutive Leinster crown and a sixth All-Ireland in a row.

Although county training sessions are understood to be already taking place, even though the GAA confirmed that players will not be covered by insurance before that official start date in September.

Initially GAA President John Horan indicated no intention to sanction counties for breaching that, but when pressed on the matter Director-General Tom Ryan conceded that now might be the time to send out a warning message on that matter – then again delayed doing so:

“Perhaps it is. It is not for today. What we are doing today is trying to set out a little bit of a picture for people of what the next three, four months can look like if we do our business correctly.

“If we need to put in measures, safeguards, protocols in around what is doing our business correctly, we will look at that and we will consider it then.

“The main priority in terms of doing things right up to now has been health advice. That is what we have been driven by in terms of getting clubs back, in terms of getting counties back to.

“We are 16 or 17 weeks away from having those games played. There are an awful lot of imponderables between now and that.”

The GAA’s Director of Player, Club and Games Administration, Feargal McGill, stated that no testing of players is envisaged, explaining: “We’re not going down the route of testing. We’re not a professional sport.

“Professional sportspeople live and move in their own groups, their own pods, if you like; we don’t. Our people mingle in the community generally so testing is just not a route we’ll be going down.”

All three leading GAA officials stressed that the plans for Championship remain at risk of a ‘second wave’ warned against complacency, with Ryan adding:

“We have to do an awful lot of things right in order for us to get to that stage and part of that is abiding by the timelines and principles that we've set out. We'll be asking people to abide by those because they're the right thing to do.”

New York will not take part in this year’s Championship and the involvement of teams from Britain – London, Warwickshire, and Lancashire – will be dependent on travel restrictions easing.

All games will be played to a finish, with extra time and penalty shoot-outs if required, even in the All-Ireland Finals.

The aim is to complete the Football League before Championship, and also Hurling Divisions 2A, 2B, and 3A.

The Joe McDonagh Cup winner will not participate in this year’s Liam MacCarthy Cup but will be promoted to the 2021 version.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

GAA Football