GAA President John Horan has outlined that the association would be open to letting the 2020 season run into 2021 should it be unable to be completed by the end of the year.
The recent coronavirus pandemic has decimated the sporting calendar, with GAA one of a plethora of sports who have felt the effect of the global crisis.
The government recently announced that mass gatherings of over 5000 people would be banned until at least September with it looking increasing unlikely that the season will be completed by the end of the calendar year.
Speaking on RTE Radio One this morning, in quotes reported by GAA.ie, Horan outlined that the club season would be their priority ahead of inter-county while outlining that they are opening to letting the campaign run into 2021.
“Yes, we’re open to that,” he said. “If it’s a possibility, we would be open to that. We would just adjust the 2021 season. I think there’s a hunger and appetite out there among both players and spectators to see games being played.
“I think people would accept that if we were to make such a decision that they would see it’s for the benefit of everyone involved.”
Horan also refuted reports over the weekend which had outlined that there had been plans to allow inter-county teams to resume training during the summer.
“I’m quite shocked by this story,” said Horan. “It’s a nothing story and, to be honest, somewhat irresponsible.
“It’s caused a nervousness among our membership throughout the country (who are wondering) are we as an organisation putting the interests of the inter-county player ahead of the club player.
“We’re regularly in contact with Government departments and at no stage have we discussed a return to training of inter-county players with any Government department. I’m aghast as to where this story has come from.”
He continued, explaining that they will not rush a decision on the sport’s return and that the association will continue to follow the government’s guidelines.
“We’re going to act totally responsibly,” said Horan. “The one thing about the playing of games is they’re a contact sport and while social distancing of two metres is a high priority at the moment, I can’t see contact sport coming on board in the short-term.
“The other feature in this is we’re an amateur sport. I know there’s a lot of speculation that professional sports like rugby and soccer may come back here in Ireland or overseas, but that’s probably in the sense that they cocoon their players.
“But our amateur athletes go back to their families and work-place and we can’t put any of those people or the people they come into contact with at risk just for the sake of playing games.
“People talk about gatherings of crowd and all of this. But the key thing is when will the health authorities declare that contact sport is safe? Until then, we really cannot make a decision about returning to play.
“That’s the key question in it all. When will contact sport be safe?
“The movement of the actual control of the virus is the key issue to it all. Games are games, but, as I’ve said all along, we’re not going to put anybody at risk.
“We won’t be making any rushed decision on this. We’ve always taken our guidance from the health authorities and we’ll continue to do that. And until they declare that contact sport is safe, then we won’t be playing games.”