The latest GAA-related Covid news – broken this evening by RTÉ’s Damian Lawlor (report here) – comes as a huge blow to everyone who may have been expecting a resumption of inter-county action within any kind of reasonable timeframe this year.
In short, the GAA were informed by the Government earlier this week that their inter-county action, as well as that of the LGFA and the Camogie Association, is not covered by the elite sports exemption under the current Level 5 restrictions. This means no training or matches can take place while the current restrictions remain in place.
The earliest any changes might be made to the current restrictions is on 5th March and even then it’s unlikely that much loosening will take place. This in turn means that there’s now no prospect of inter-county games getting going this year until after Easter, which this year falls at the start of April.
This latest development basically upends whatever plans the GAA thought they had for this year’s fixtures. Everything is now up in the air once again, including what competitions might take place and when they’ll be played and, assuming a split season approach will still be used, whether it’s inter-county or club that will be played off first. Or, indeed, if this can happen at all.
In other words, it’s back to the drawing board as, once again, Covid rips through all the plans that have been made. In that report linked above, the GAA confirms that it will revisit its Master Fixture calendar for 2021 once there’s clarity from Government about what sporting activity will be allowed to take place and when.
Until that happens, we’re all – players, managers, backroom staff, mentors and supporters – in a holding pattern as training and games of all varieties – male and female, adult and juvenile, big ball and small ball – remain mothballed.
This, of course, is far from the worst impact of Covid. For those of us who, in our own different ways, get so much from our involvement with the GAA, it is nonetheless a bitter blow but one which, like life in general in this pandemic era, we simply have to accept.