Worrying times ahead.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that if the country moves to Level 5 of the government’s COVID-19 framework then this year’s GAA championship will not go ahead.
The intercounty season resumes over the next two weekends as the National Football and Hurling Leagues finish up while the end of October/beginning of November will also see the start of the championship across both codes.
Ireland is currently experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 infections with 1,205 cases the latest daily figures which have been released. This is the highest number of cases since the pandemic began in this country.
If Ireland was to move into Level 5 which would be akin to the nationwide lockdown experienced at the beginning of the pandemic, then this throws the staging of elite sport in Ireland into doubt.
To put the championship further into doubt, the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) is currently asking its members if they are comfortable with the return of the intercounty season.
Varadkar, who was speaking with Matt Cooper on Today FM’s The Last Word programme, said that if Ireland moved to Level 5 then there would be no championship this year as he cited the difficulty for GAA athletes to cocoon themselves in comparison to professional sports in this country.
Leo Varadkar: Championship will not go ahead if Ireland moves to Level 5
You can read Varadkar’s full comments below:
Matt Cooper: “In your view, is it feasible now that we would have that, that we would have teams travelling all over the country to play each other putting, perhaps, players and the support staff at risk?
Leo Varadkar: “I think, ultimately, that is going to be a decision for the GAA and they’re the right ones to make it. I do think it’s feasible for intercounty and elite sports to continue. We’ll see international competitions, for example, continue and I wouldn’t like to see Irish teams or Irish athletes having to pull out of international competitions.
“But it is difficult for the GAA in particular because they’re amateur athletes and they can’t be bubbled or cocooned in a way that Premiership players can be or even provincial rugby players can be. But it can be done and it obviously has to be done with no spectators.
Matt Cooper: “But is it ultimately a decision for the GAA to make?”
Leo Varadkar: “At the current levels it is. At Level 5 it wouldn’t be.”
Matt Cooper: “If we got to Level 5 would that mean no Championship?”
Leo Varadkar: “It would.”