GAA to seek clarity over Irish government plan amid fixtures concerns
THE GAA is to seek further clarity about the Irish government's Covid-19 roadmap amid concerns about the “impossible” task of drawing up a revised fixtures programme for the year ahead.
Confusion reigned as the ‘Living with Covid' document exempted inter-county games along with professional, elite, and horse-racing behind closed doors as a level four sport, with no sports permitted at level five.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin later explained that the current list of elite sports exempted under level five restrictions, which doesn't include inter-county Gaelic Games, will be allowed to continue, pointing to a possible clerical error in the plan.
It remains unlikely that the GAA season will commence until the start of May at the earliest, in a letter to county boards director general Tom Ryan and president John Horan said they would be seeking guidance on when restriction levels could change in a bid to plot their own road ahead.
“There is no immediate change for sport outlined in the plan and as per our last communication to you, it is clear that no on-field activity will be permitted - even at inter-county level – until Easter at the earliest,” read the correspondence.
"We will be seeking clarity on certain aspects of the provisions on sport in the new government document and while the document does envisage the return of inter-county games at level four and of some club games in level three, it remains impossible to plan a revised master fixtures calendar for 2021 as there is no indication at this point of when these levels may kick in.
"In the interim, and despite any speculation you may read or hear to the contrary, we would again reiterate that the GAA have not decided on what competitions may or may not be facilitated in any revised national fixture programme for 2021.
"Such decisions will be a factor of how much time is ultimately available to us, both for an inter-county season and for the broader participation levels that will be necessary for a meaningful club season at both adult and underage levels."
In a radio interview yesterday morning Horan – whose term of office comes to an end at Saturday's Congress – said he remained confident that the National League, All-Ireland Championship and club championships would all be completed as long as training resumes after Easter.
"Last year we got through a full club programme, we completed the Leagues and we got the inter-county Championships played,” he said.
“I'd be confident we will get a games programme in place and we will actually get all the activities completed."