GAA Football

'Very challenging' time ahead as GAA summer looks doomed

GAA Director of Communications, Alan Milton.

THE GAA has admitted that the coming months look “very, very challenging” as the likelihood of championship action occurring in 2020 continues to dwindle.

Ireland’s Health Minister Simon Harris said at the weekend that it was “highly unlikely we’re going to be seeing very large kind of mass gatherings this year. Could you get to a point where you can’t have massive GAA matches, but you could have local kids having a kickabout safely, that’s the sort of space we’re in.”

Uncertainty continues to surround global sport and the GAA, which has been widely praised for its reaction to the pandemic, last week conceded its championships would not start until July at the earliest.

Speaking to Off The Ball yesterday, the GAA’s director of communications Alan Milton admitted that even if professional sports do make a return, asking amateur players to potentially put themselves at risk in the absence of a vaccine might be “an unfair ask”.

Milton said that if a return to play was to happen later in the year it would almost certainly begin with club games, and that the GAA has not yet seriously considered playing inter-county games behind closed doors.

“Most people who have watched this and followed the story will accept club activity is far likelier to return earlier, and that’s very obvious as to why that might be in terms of smaller crowds turning up to watch games,” he said.

On Minister Harris’s comments, Milton said they represented “something of a water change” but that the GAA had not been informed that his thoughts represented official government policy.

The idea of potentially spilling the season into 2021 if both possible and necessary will be looked at if needed, while Milton also suggested there two trains of thought as regards the structure of inter-county championships.

“It’s easy to draw the conclusion you wouldn’t be able to facilitate round robin quarter-finals in football or round-robin group stages in the Munster and Leinster hurling championships.

“In that scenario, you’re looking at two potential scenarios in my view. The first one is the traditional back-door system that we had, or Plan B, possibly a straight knockout," he said.

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GAA Football