The prospect of a summer season of Gaelic Games became clearer last night when a return to intercounty training for GAA, LGFA and Camogie Association players.
This will allow each of the organisations to plan for League campaigns from mid-May and Championships over two months from mid-June to Mid August before club action resumption through the autumn.
The return of children’s activity from one week later will also be a major boost with a potential timeline now to allow for summer camps in a similar manner to last year and hopefully games at underage level in the same manner as they were permitted last September and October.
GAA President Larry McCarthy and Director General Tom Ryan wrote to GAA units last night saying that the return of non-contact underage training and full contact Inter-County training at adult level was “hugely welcome developments and allow us finally to begin planning on-field activity for the remainder of 2021.”
They struck a note of caution though in saying that “it should also be noted that these dates are conditional and will very much depend on what happens in terms of the overall COVID-19 picture in the coming weeks.”
“For that reason, it is more important than ever that no collective training sessions are held between now and the Government indicated return dates.”
“Breaches in this context will not only be dealt with under our own Rules but would likely put the broader plan to return to activity in serious jeopardy.”
“As you will appreciate, we need to receive further clarity on aspects of what was announced today before finalising our plans for a return to training and ultimately games.”
“We also need to finalise competition structures and dates for the up-coming inter-county season, as well as ensuring advice is provided for all clubs in relation to how they can safely recommence underage activity (and in the case of the 6 Counties, adult club training from April 12th).”
“We hope to be in a position to confirm the fixture calendar and competition structures for inter-county by the end of next week.”
Unlike last year when plans were drawn up in a vacuum of not knowing how they would be applied in reality, this year will have the benefit of learning from last year and the successful management of the GAA return to Play questionnaire that became a familiar tool for parents, coaches and covid supervisors across the country.
There are a few weeks to iron out any kinks before the explosion of feet on the grass brings smiles and laughter back to the pitches that have lain idle since December.
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