GAA getting ready to consider Championship changes

Photo: GAA

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.

36 thoughts on “GAA getting ready to consider Championship changes

  1. I’m afraid we are looking at some sort of lockdown or semi lockdown until June or July at least it’s hard to see the Government allowing mass gatherings of over 500 people again until the curve as the man says is flattened or until some sort of vaccine is produced. What ever chance the club championship has of going ahead it’s difficult to see the inter county scene back to normal this Summer but I hope I am wrong. In the meantime it gives lads the chance to recover properly from injuries and not be pressured into coming back to quickly

  2. Straight knockout competition with an open draw like the fa cup in england.

    all players to be covid tested for safety and all games to be played behind closed doors with as much tv coverage as is allowable.

    mayo to win the final in front on an empty croke park. we end up with the elusive all ireland we craved and yet after all those years of suffering there isn’t a mayo man or woman anywhere in sight to witness it in the flesh !!!!

  3. I’m not at all sure where people are pulling these dates of July etc for lockdown . Know a fella who knows a fella in the know in the construction industry and we will be back on site after may weekend 100% . The lights will start to flicker back on in the economy from there on in unless there’s a fook up in guideline discipline over the next few weeks .

    If this ro figure hits near zero by mid June and continues to stay there , the boozers will be open by mid July , knockout championship will begin then and life will be great again , victory in Hyde and salt hill to follow .

    Don’t argue with my crystal ball , it’s all positive stuff .

  4. That’s like a dream I had last week. We win but the Mayo fans were locked outside and only Tyrone fans were allowed in !!
    In truth though, it’s hard to see where a championship will fit in for 2020. Is it fair to expect players that haven’t trained to be able to go out and run themselves ragged and get fit or injured all so we can have something to look at? It won’t happen in pro sports and we are not even semi pro, so, it cannot be done. Scratch 2020 inter county and let’s see how things look in early December or January of 2021 and reassess the situation. We kinda knew who the winner was going to be anyways.

  5. Agree Sean this level of lockdown is really not tenable beyond May. Slowly we’ll see restrictions start to be lifted, in may there will be little choice but to revert back to the 12th march restrictions and then see from there on a rolling basis.

    However I’d say we’re a long way off big crowds at championship matches , probably not going to happen until effective treatments can be implemented

    A good comparison might be the proposed premier league weekend of 14th march, the PL were happy to proceed behind closed doors, however the arsenal manager tested positive, west ham had to self-isolate – basically it become a huge mess. Even if championship got the green light all it would take is a key player or manager to test positive and the whole thing would be shelved quicker than you can say “MayoForSam”. As well as that will we see a scenario where some teams refuse to play behind closed doors? Will some players refuse to participate? As well as that there’s every chance lockdowns might need to be reimplemented later in the year – even briefly but enough to completely disrupt an ongoing championship

    So unless the GAA can come up with a quick-fire, cheap and cheerful championship this year I’d say it’ll be a non runner. I struggle to see how club campaigns can’t progress though as the year goes on. Obviously with some tweaks and fans well dispersed but it can surely be done

  6. I see what you’re saying about “pro sports” Dave but the extreme cynic in me sees too much money in these things to just shelve them all for the year

    Bundesliga sides are already back in training – basically any sort of a decline in cases/deaths will see powers that be ready to come straight out of the traps with suggestions and proposals. I’d say we could see some very novel ways of running off events coming to fruition but I’d expect many sporting events to go ahead at some stage this year

    In fairness when testing properly ramps up and same day results can be implemented on a widescale level it will make an awful difference. Right now we’re seeing cases and deaths increasing in Ireland and especially with our neighbours but in many countries cases and deaths are well and truly declining, several European countries are now relaxing restrictions and obviously so are China

    Right now we have a huge testing backlog in Ireland but that will soon change. Our mindset will be very different in a few weeks to now

    Every day brings with it increased knowledge and represents a day closer to medical breakthroughs also. A lot can change in a few months. Here’s hoping anyway

  7. By May the 5th I would expect some sort of a reduction in restrictions (depending on discipline to the current ones). Getting people back to work will be the primary concern for the government but this will all be done in accordance with the advise from the special medical council and rightly so. The big danger in the reduction on restrictions is a secondary surge in infections, I can not see any way the medical council will agree to mass gatherings of any kind for months after the lockdown ends. There is no way people will be allowed to travel all over the country to attend on essential activities such as a concert, football game etc, not going to happen. We all are hopeful of a return to normal and resumption of pastimes like football but it won’t be this year, much more important things to worry about.

  8. I think we will have a championship this year alright – a 16 team race for Sam and a 16 team race?? for the Taillteann Cup, beginning possibly in August and ending in Sept with revised County championships following. It will be knockout all the way with all games finishing on the day.

  9. Personally can’t see any championship this year. At the end of the day its a non essential “amateur” sport. If we’re lucky we might get club championships played out in the last couple months of the year. This virus isn’t going away, so I cannot see how they’ll allow players from all over the country gather for 3/4 nights a week even when restrictions are eased. We’ll be doing well to have hairdressers/barbers/electrical shops open in the near future, so just cant see the government risking social gatherings of 20plus people until October/November time. 2020 will be in the history books as the year the Sam and Liam took a career break.

  10. Hard to see any matches (with crowds) until there’s a vaccine. There’ll always be that risk and in crowds it will spread.
    Even if the virus dies down end of summer there’ll still be the fear of the”second wave”.
    There’s no doubt that the lockdown has to end before that because it’s not tenable in the long or even medium term but crowds at matches other big events? I can’t see it until there’s a vaccine. It’s still totally uncharted territory.

  11. An open draw would seem the best way forward , but who the hell want’s to draw or play New York home or away !

  12. @Ciaran, ..Bundesliga team’s back in training is a positive sign alright.. But having lived in Germany, I can honestly say with certainty that our Public Health Service and the German Public Health Service are on very different Planets…as are our Politicans!.. Austria another very Germanic Country is also edging towards a thawing of restrictions.. Germany is processing thousands of Irish tests at the moment…I feel certain that the Scientific evidence will dictate what action will take place in both Austria, Germany, and indeed Denmark (another Country with a land border with Germany, and another first class Public Health Service) who are also thinking about taking the first cautious step’s to a more liberal …We cannot afford to play Politics, with this, or let sentiment blur the clear picture… Someone pointed out something to me on another online forum when discussing Covid 19… Most, if not all of the Countries who have the best record in dealing with this current Pandemic, happen to have a female Premier…. Germany, Denmark, (the daughter in law of former UK Labour Party Leader, Neil Kinnock) New Zealand and Taiwan, (Probably best of all concidering its promixity to China, and the subsequent lack of warning).. another with limited power’s in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, closed the Schools and Pubs, while her (Superior???) in Westminster Boris Johnson left them open, makes you think, doesn’t it?… There is some good news eg a small town with one thousand residents in Germany, one of the original epicenter’s of the Coranavirus , the whole population was tested..2% were found to be infected, but 14% were found to have the antibiotics having previously been infected and recovered, never having shown any symptoms…. So the world is still learning about this…I would say that the best Scientific Brains in the World are doing everything in their power’s to find a Vacine, find more effective treatment’s and more effective testing… How well they do, and how fast they do it will determine when or whether the GAA and indeed all Sports start up again…We all should wish them the best, for all our future’s!

  13. I’m based in Vienna. Here the government wants to open up small shops next week (on Tuesday), with pubs, restaurants etc. scheduled to re-open in mid-May, all going well.

    However, there will be strict checks to ensure that’s there’s no overcrowding. Concerts, sports fixtures etc. will be mothballed until the end of June at least.

    Given that we’re several weeks ahead of the curve in Ireland, it’s hard to see anything happening GAA wise before July at the very least. The number of cases in Austria has been declining significantly for the past ten days, whereas we’re unfortunately seeing a spike in Ireland.

    Football will be back in good time, lads and lasses. Public health is what really matters now.

  14. happy easter to all. whatever about the football could anybody tell me when is a pub going to open again. i have tried drinking cans at home but i dont enjoy drinking cans at home. i like having the crack and banter in the local pub. maybe SEAN BURKE may have the answer.

  15. There should be no physical contact sports played until a cure is found for the virus. We are not able to facilitate testing of patients so testing players is a non runner. How can we expect a player in close physical contact with his opponent, then to go back in to a crowded dressing room and then go home to in many cases middle aged or elderly parents and not be risking the health of their many contacts. Players health and safety is paramount.

  16. Jimbo
    You and the rest of us are missing the pints. It’s early April now, you can be sure it will be June before pubs are allowed to open, and only then if other businesses are open and no surge in Covid occurs. This is a pain in the ass, bigtime.

  17. Lol jimbo , like everyone else I’m only guessing. On a serious note though there is a lot of the unknown about this whole horrible situation, experts in the different fields seem to even admit that , it’s like an evolving situation gach la .
    It’s like all the various words and terminology we all use now but most of us never even heard of them a month ago , social distancing, flattening the curve , epidemiologists etc etc , shur the Tony fella the chief medical officer is like the new uachtarán na héireann .

    Anyway pubs and restaurants , I’ll take a punt at last week in June . All I’m doing here is guessing we will be down to double digit cases and that reproductive thingy will be near zero . As far as I can make out that ro figure is vital as in it means how many people are catching it off one another , Perhaps that’s not even what it does mean ( person tests positive, they do the contact tracing and then see how many of them test positive form original person , and repeat , repeat till they get the average of infected ) is that right ?

  18. If it’s a thing that sport can be played again by June, Should both codes not just go back to the old system. Provincial knockout played over June and July. Semi-finals 3rd/4th weekends of August and finals 2nd/3rd weekends of September?

  19. John Byrne, people’s health is paramount not just players. Can anyone really say they are prepared to stand/sit in a packed stadium, use what are generally sub standard toilet facilities this summer. I don’t expect the resumption of mass gatherings anytime in the near future but should they be allowed this year, people need to really think about attending. Complacency will be the reason we see a second, third, forth surge of this diesese, I will definetly not be attending any matches this year, a lot of things more important than sport.

  20. We will be lucky to get a club championship and I think that is what we should aim to have. People who think we will be allowed pack 80k into Croke Park or have packed venues around the country before a vaccine is available are living in cloud cuckoo land.

  21. You want you grandma to survive this? . . . Stay at home.
    Mandatory antibody tests for the entire travelling squad as a pre-requisite for closed door TV knockout championship, top 16 from League. 20,000 people at Croke park Semi and Finals. A real victory for the deserved winner. Good Luck to all and bring back Grandmother program and a bloodied Dublin jersey !

  22. Mayo Gaa Fan Chris O’Grady is walking 267km around his back garden for cystic fibrosis Ireland. Big challenge for a great cause by a man cocooning. He can be supported on JustGiving.

    Mayo Day 2020 is taking place on 2nd May. There won’t be any big events this year but maybe the day could still be marked. It maybe a good day to raise funds for Mayo Gaa or for charities within the county eg to purchase Ppe for hospitals/nursing homes in Mayo.

  23. Fair enough yew tree but if no vaccine by 2021 , do you believe there will be no championship next year either and what about next season in professional football , there won’t be a vaccine by this side of Xmas every report says 12-18 months minimum , will they just fold professional sports ? I’m not saying you’re wrong I just don’t think they can manage , perhaps there will be some calculated risks involved ?

  24. I heard last week that it will be September when the Pubs re-open.
    The football will start up again surely the Dubs will be rusty or maybe they are training through the lockdown.

  25. Load’s of very good people in the HSE, they are currently saving lives of our Citizens, in other Countries, unfortunately Several Public Health Professional’s have lost their lives, trying to save the lives of Other’s…We all should be very greatfull to all of those who are working on the front line, I hope that it doesn’t happen in Ireland, but with approximately 25% of all Covid 19 infections, affecting those wonderful people working in our Public Health Service, who knows?..I am certain that no one worth listening to, knew last week when the ‘Pubs would reopen’ … And I would be absolutely delighted if were possible to know by the 5th of May….All Eye’s are currently on Austria and Demark as they tentivatly try to return to something nearer normal… Who knows for sure, … There are actually some possible Green Shoot’s out there in the Scientific Community, it’s a matter of time… Same as at the beginning of the Crisis, those countries who acted efficiently first will be first out of it…Those Leader’s who diddered, their people will suffer for longer unfortunately!

  26. Leantimes, this is a sporting blog not a politics blog,

    I really think that we will only have club championship this year, but lets wait and see.

  27. Well a bit of white smoke…

    The source is GalwayBayFM facebook page

    Club championships to apparently return in June and July, ran off in 8 weeks, and hoping to start inter-county after that, with October bank holiday pencilled in for All Ireland finals. Obviously crowds will be severely reduced or non-existant – it will naturally depend on the level of restrictions

    Very prudent in my opinion if true – let the clubs go ahead first, which has far less risk involved – if there are delays then so be it, but at least everyone will be able to get back playing, not just county players who make up a tiny proportion of GAA players countrywide. And then if clubs can be completed in the suggested timeframe then hopefully county can go ahead

    Obviously all to be confirmed and naturally it can’t be set in stone just yet, but by June we will hopefully have MUCH quicker turnaround in testing and contact tracing and will have flattened the curve a great deal. Two more months of enhanced knowledge and learnings on the part of the experts also. No reason not to be optimistic

    There are naturally more important things at play in the overall scheme of things, but the thoughts of being back playing a bit of ball again in the summer is definitely a welcome one

    I’m however MUCH more confident of club being completed than county however

  28. Cant see any action till everyone is vaccinated. On a positive note. No Gaa players will be heading to the AFL for a good numbers of years Many AFL clubs will be lucky to survive because of this virus.

  29. Between players and mentors – there could be up to 35 players in a small dressing room before, during and after a game. If one of the 35 is after picking up the virus in the previous 2-3 days and doesn’t realise it – imagine the damage that could be done. If the leaving cert cant go ahead until the end of July at the earliest – it’s hard to see any collective training never mind games been allowed before this.

  30. It’s not so long ago that GAA attendances where being reduced on a health and safety issue basis. Remember Donegal in Elverys McCale park when they got an extra few thousand in by the Saw Doctors fella playing earlier beforehand.
    So having a straight forward Knockout championship later in the year with the Virus still running a muck in the country is the solution that’s being considered by the same GAA !!! I’m with Mayomad on this one. I wont be attending a ny game be it club or county until there’s a tested vaccine available. It doesn’t matter if there are smaller crowds at club games the salvia from the fecking and blinding can be even worse their at times.

  31. This is a sports blog not a political forum and criticism of HSE and politician s is unfair at the moment in my opinion. I reckon there may only be a club championship this year. Even if Inter county could be played, players need to recover physical fitness which would require a number of weeks before an inter county game could be played. Let the clubs gradually return when its safe Smaller crowds at club games so no potentially dangerous large crowds. Summer without intercounty matches doesn’t bear thinking about but human lives need to take priority at this moment in time.

  32. It would be nice to see some sort of championship this year but my feeling is that we will have no championship.I know that it is hard to predict the outcome of this virus but I think the GAA has got to come out and give a idea of their plans.Players and management must be very frustrated not knowing what the future holds.Maybe league matches could be finished off in both codes the crowds would be lower then championship games and it would be something for genuine supporters to look forward to maybe in September. Most important thing is everyone to stay healthy and if their is no sport this year we will all be looking forward to it in 2021 .Stay safe

  33. I’m with Mikey and To Win Just Once – this isn’t a place to be posting comments slagging off politicians and/or the HSE on their handling of the Covid-19 crisis. There are plenty of other locations online where you can do this to your heart’s content if that’s your bag. I’ve no problem with general pandemic-related chat – what else is there to talk about nowadays? – but, like the football, this should aim to be fact-based and fair-minded. Leantimes and Mayo88 – I’ve edited out the offending bits of those comments you posted and please bear this in mind for future. Stay safe all.

  34. @Sean Burke: I reckon if no vaccine emerges by 2021 then the likes of the GAA, Premier League etc. will play the season behind closed doors. That way they will at least get the money for the TV rights (and the tv channels will be very happy).

  35. I cannot see any football this year–behind closed doors is not an option unless we have a way of insuring all players are virus free.
    Pubs & football will be the last to return
    May be the end of the road for some of our older players–what a pity

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.