“The inter-county, obviously, will be the one that comes back first.”
GAA president John Horan has said that inter-county to return first is still the plan for the 2021 season when it is safe to resume.
In 2020, the GAA made the unprecedented move to play club championships in the summer before undergoing a winter inter-county championship – with the All-Ireland finals taking place in December.
The GAA president was speaking at the PWC All-Star awards on RTÉ where Dublin’s Brian Fenton won Footballer of the Year for the second time. Gearoid Hegarty was awarded Hurler of the Year for his outstanding contribution in helping Limerick to a second All-Ireland title in three years.
“There will be a programme of games for both our club and inter-county players once we get the green light from the Government that we can actually return,” Horan said.
“It is a case of the numbers in the country and thankfully the numbers are going in the right direction and once that continues, we will be back on the playing fields. The inter-county, obviously, will be the one that comes back first.”
GAA President John Horan says there will be a programme of games at club and inter-county level in 2021 once they get the green light, while outgoing GPA CEO Paul Flynn says inter-county games should be categorised as 'elite' sport pic.twitter.com/jjGGkF6fZW
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) February 20, 2021
Horan confirmed that inter-county will more than likely go ahead first due to the fewer numbers involved at that level.
“If you look at it in terms of the governmental levels it’s always likely that the inter-county will be at a level above that of the club, one assumes then that that is the road we will go down,” Horan added.
“We always made it clear that there would be four-weeks’ notice, that is four weeks to train before any competition would begin. In early January we pushed the starting date back from the 15 January and then we moved it back further.”
Horan also confirmed that the GAA’s Covid committee will meet next week in order to give players and management a clearer return date so they can begin preperations.
“Our Covid committee will meet next week along with the GPA, the Camogie Association and the Ladies Association,” Horan explained.
“We will make a clear decision then to give people an idea as to a future plan.
“We are conscious that people’s lives are on hold at the moment, that they want clarity and that they want a plan. We will give it as soon as we can.
“The one thing that we have learned out of this whole pandemic is that you have to be flexible in all your planning and ideas that you put together. We will have to remain that way.”
Regarding the GAA losing their elite status, Paul Flynn was adamant that the Government should reinstate the GAA as an elite sport.
“Inter-county is as elite a game as you have on this island,” said Flynn.
“It’s critically important that it is categorised and recognised as that.
“These are high-performing athletes. When we look at other sports and there are great athletes in our country they benchmark right up there if not surpass it.
“It’s important for players to be recognised in that manner.”