GAA Football

Don't expect thousands flocking to Ulster Championship games - Ulster chief Brian McAvoy

Around 450 supporters watched Armagh versus Donegal on Saturday night, the first time limited numbers were allowed to return to grounds to watch an inter-county game in over a year Picture: Philip Walsh

ULSTER GAA chief Brian McAvoy doesn’t anticipate thousands flocking to next month’s Ulster Championship with numbers expected to remain capped in the north at 500 and 200 in the south due to ongoing COVID protocol relating to crowds at sports events.

On Saturday night, inter-county games in the north welcomed back supporters, limited to 500, for the first time since March 8 2020.

But there will be no dramatic rise in numbers for the Ulster Championship preliminary round game between Down and Donegal in Newry on June 27, with the cap expected to stay at 500.

“We heard some positive things from the Taoiseach that from Monday 200 people will be able to attend games in the south if the capacity is more than 5,000 and that again goes up to 500 on July 5," McAvoy said.

"Hopefully it’ll be more in August and we’ll be looking to doing something similar in the north if the numbers continue to go the way they’re going.”

As it stands, only 200 supporters will be able to attend the Ulster Championship match between Monaghan and Fermanagh in Clones.

“It looks like 200 for the Ulster Championship game in Clones because the rise to 500 [in the south] doesn’t come in until two days afterwards.”

McAvoy hopes the northern Executive will follow the Irish Government’s lead and stage more pilot events in the coming weeks where more supporters can attend on a one-off basis.

For instance, 3,000 fans will be allowed to attend the camogie league finals in Croke Park on June 20.

“Hopefully there’ll be some increases as we progress but I wouldn’t anticipate thousands – I don’t think we’re anywhere near that stage yet.

"The situation is reviewed every three weeks and there’s only one more review before the preliminary round game between Down and Donegal. There would be two reviews before the next round of fixtures which would involve Armagh and Antrim obviously."

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GAA Football