All Ulster Schools' GAA competitions for 20/21 season cancelled
ULSTER Schools' GAA Council has drawn a line through the possibility of any competitive action this year.
The GAA's Covid-19 Advisory Group update to GAA units in response to the recent extension of restrictions across the island made clear that on field GAA activity will not be permitted until after Easter at the earliest.
When activity is eventually permitted to resume, this will initially be non-contact training in pods of up to 15, with games only proceeding at elite inter-county level in the first instance.
After an online meeting of the provincial schools' Council on Wednesday evening a state-ment was issued yesterday.
“As a provincial body, we are also mindful of the education guidelines in both jurisdictions. Ulster Schools' GAA has reluctantly accepted that it will not be possible to complete any for-mal competitions during the current school year 2020/21.”
This means that there will have been absolutely no GAA activity at schools' level for a continuous period from the second week of March last year until September this year at the earliest.
Chairman Jimmy Smith felt that there was really no choice in the matter.
“No, the guidelines issued last week from Croke Park left us with no alternative.
“This hiatus of 18 months is obviously the longest break ever in activity in our schools and is most regrettable. But we are living in extraordinary times and the sooner we get back to normality the better for everyone.
“Of course we will continue to monitor the situation as the path ahead unfolds and we will liaise with the relevant authorities whenever possible.”
Meanwhile the chairman revealed that there has been a huge response to the skills' challenge launched last week by the Council in conjunction with their sponsors Danske Bank.
“Ulster Schools' Council will release a GAA skills video on a weekly basis over a period of six weeks in the run up to Easter.
“Tyrone's Conor McKenna demonstrates the three football skills while Antrim's top-scorer in the Joe McDonagh Cup success, Ciarán Clarke demonstrates three in hurling.
“We are then asking pupils in all our schools to record themselves performing the skills and upload the recording to any of our social media platforms (Twitter/Facebook/Instagram) by the end of each week to be in with a chance of winning one of the five weekly prizes sponsored by Danske Bank.
“Conor demonstrated a soloing skill this week and already we have had a huge response and a large number of recordings uploaded. The deadline for entries for this skill is 6pm on Sunday and we will be uploading our hurling challenge for Week Two early on Monday.”
The link to this week's skill is https://youtu.be/zvJm2YUvMSo, while information on how to enter can be found on http://www.danskebankulsterschoolsgaa.com/ or any of the Ulster Schools' social media channels.
CORK camogie legend Gemma O'Connor will not appear again in the county colours after 19 seasons on the senior team.
The St Finbarr's club player holds nine senior All-Ireland medals and more All-Star awards (11) than any other player in camogie.
A versatile player, she has won titles as a forward, midfielder and defender with her equalis-ing long-range point in the closing minutes of the 2017 final a score that is constantly re-played.
Julia White then popped up with the injury time winner to defeat Kilkenny and there was an-other single point win over the same opposition the following year to secure her ninth medal.
An emotional O'Connor, speaking on Cork local radio, said it was a hard decision to make.
"It was a tough decision. I never even want to say the words that I'm not going back or I'm retiring. I never envisaged myself saying it but I suppose the last year has been hard in that respect. It was coming.
"I'm getting married on the 10th of July and obviously that's a priority and have been trying to juggle too many things in recent years.
"I've had a wonderful career; I've played with magnificent players and had some wonderful managers."
"Cork are in a transitional period with a number of young players now coming through and with that and some of the older girls taking on a more leadership role they'll be coming strong."