GAA

John Horan: GAA Championships Could Run Into 2021

John Horan: GAA Championships Could Run Into 2021

The big unanswered question of Irish sport is what will happen to the 2020 Championship in the wake of the coronavirus. The signs are not promising. Pretty much all sport scheduled for this summer has been postponed. The government has banned mass gatherings of over 5000 people until the end of August. The 2021 Championship realistically gets underway in late December with the start of the O'Byrne Cup and their brethren.

Everyone from John Conlon to Joe Brolly has said they find it hard to picture a 2020 Championship until there is a coronavirus vaccine. Still we all badly want to want club and intercounty GAA back in our lives.

How, and whe,n will the GAA respond to this?

Speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke today, GAA president James Horan said the GAA is open to extending this year's Championship into next year, raising the possibility of All-Ireland's played in the worst possible weather, a scheduling conflict for ages, and yes incredibly a 2020 Championship.

"We're open to that if that's a possibility," he said.

"We'd just adjust the 2021 season. I think there's a hunger and an appetite out there among both players and spectators to see the games being played. I think people would accept that if we were to make such a decision that it would be to the benefit of everyone involved."

"We're going to act totally responsibly. 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.

"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 and overseas, but that's probably in the sense that they've cocooned their players.

"Our amateur athletes, they go back to their families, they go back to their work place. We can't put any of those people, or those people they come in contact with, at risk just for the sake of playing games. We won't be making any rushed decision on this.

"If and when we do return, the club scene will be our priority because 98% of our activity happens at club level. As we're looking at it at the moment, our return initially will be back to club activity before we engage in the inter-county playing."

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Horan also denied report on RTÉ this weekend that the government was considering allowing intercounty teams to train in the coming weeks.

"I'm quite shocked by this story, this was very much a nothing story over the weekend and to be honest with you, somewhat irresponsible," Horan said.

"It caused a nervousness among membership throughout the country: 'are we as an organisation putting the inter-county player ahead the club player?'.

"We're regularly in contact with government departments and at no stage have we discussed the return to training of inter-county players with any government department. I'm kind of aghast at where this story has come from."

Balls Team

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