The announcement by the GAA yesterday – coming in the wake of the Government’s extension of the current Covid-19 restrictions until 5th May – that it intends to hold a remote Special Congress next Friday marks the first tentative confirmation by the Association that change is inevitably on the way for this year’s Championship.
It’s not planned to bring to this Special Congress any concrete plans for what foreshortened 2020 Championships in hurling and football might look like. Instead, the virtual gathering will consider an enabling motion, granting powers to a management committee to decide on the structures, once there’s more clarity on when – and in what form – the current restrictions will begin to be unwound.
While it probably made sense for the GAA to have held back until now on making any quick announcement about the fate of its competitions – League and Championship – this year, the Government decision yesterday on the restrictions leave it with no scope to delay any further. The first full weekend of Championship action in the diary is the weekend after the restrictions are now set to expire – we were due to be playing Leitrim that Sunday – so now there’s no doubt that the current fixture calendar isn’t going to fly at all this summer.
As well as that, a number of inter-county managers have come out with calls for clarity from the GAA on what its summer plans are, Donegal’s Declan Bonner and Mickey Graham of Cavan among them. The players on inter-county football and hurling panels are, likewise, looking for direction on what’s likely to be facing them over the coming months, given the likely changes to this summer’s Championship that are now definitely going to happen.