GAA Football

Restricted numbers of fans to be allowed at GAA matches

Spectators watch the match from a high point outside the grounds of Erin's Own GAC, Toomebridge. Picture Mal McCann.

Restricted numbers of supporters – up to 400 in some grounds and 250 in others - will be allowed to watch club matches in the North from today onwards after Stormont ministers agreed new measures to ease Covid-19 lockdown restrictions yesterday.

The Assembly announced that spectators will be allowed to attend outdoor sporting venues: "Where the operator can control access and ensure adherence to social distancing" meaning that the gates will be open to fans for the first time this evening.

READ MORE: How Irish sport and politics collided as cyclists gatecrashed Olympics

In a press release, Ulster GAA explained: “Having consulted with the GAA nationally, Ulster GAA is therefore advising that in GAA grounds with perimeter fencing with viewing access on all four sides there should be no more than 400 people present at a game (including essential match personnel). “In all other grounds the number of people attending a game (including essential match personnel) should be limited to a maximum of 250, though in some cases (e.g. grounds with no perimeter fencing) the number might be lower.

“We must however be mindful that there remains a pandemic in our community and we must take all possible measures to mitigate against further spread. Therefore GAA units organising and hosting matches must adhere to the GAA and Executive protocols. This ‘return to spectators’ is therefore on a basis of restricted numbers with the onus on all to ensure that public health guidance is adhered to.”

The news will come as a welcome boost to spectators who have been starved of action this year and also for clubs who have been hit hard financially by being unable to collect gates or open club shops during games.

“We’ve been starved of sport, starved of a lot of things, for too long and I think we’ve all realised what an important role sport plays in our lives,” said former Mullaghbawn and Armagh player Justin McNulty.

“It’s great for fans and great for players as well and people are looking forward to getting back to cheering on their team.”

While the announcement puts the onus on ensuring “adherence to social distancing” onto clubs, McNulty doesn’t expect there to be any serious issues with fans flocking through the gates.

“I think people are smart enough and responsible enough to manage their behaviours to stay safe,” he said.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

GAA Football