Window closing for inter-county Championships

Since the decision was made back in June to push the resumption of inter-county action back to the final quarter of the year, there hasn’t been a whole load of speculation about whether or not it might even be feasible for county teams to take to the field again before the year is out. In recent days, though, the focus has started to turn to this subject and the prognosis that’s emerging isn’t a positive one.

It’s significant that the gloomy predictions about the chances of staging the inter-county Championships this year are coming from within the GAA itself. John Fogarty in today’s Irish Examiner (here) reports on a Central Council meeting held remotely yesterday where the association’s top brass said that the chances of the Championships going ahead had “disimproved” since the revised fixtures plan was published less than two months ago.

This sanguine assessment chimes with what John Prenty said recently. Speaking with Mike Finnerty for a piece in this week’s Mayo News (here) the Connacht Council Secretary rated the chances of the Championships going ahead this winter as “50:50 at best”.

Prenty also laid out in fairly stark terms the financial costs facing counties once they resume collective training, as they’re scheduled to do in a month’s time. With each training session costing €10,000 on average to hold, counties are going to face hard choices about what they can fund and to what extent in the months ahead, in particular in a situation where large-scale attendances at matches continue to be prohibited.

In all likelihood, the current restrictions on mass gathering aren’t going to change any time soon. With the push to get the schools back open and with renewed localised spikes of the virus a constant ongoing threat, it’s very possible that the measures in place now will still be there by the time the Championships are due to get underway.

The almost complete loss in gate receipt revenue will obviously be a hammer-blow for counties up and down the country, placing many of them in an impossible position from a financial point of view. In the opinion of Kevin McStay, speaking with RTÉ (here), this situation may force some counties to opt out of inter-county activity completely this year.

If that starts to happen, it’s difficult to see how the integrity of the Championships can be preserved. At some point, the GAA may itself be forced to recognise that its plans for resumed inter-county action in 2020 are no longer tenable.

That point hasn’t been reached yet and there’s still hope that it might not be. But the window is narrowing rapidly and the coming weeks will tell a lot about whether or not the Championships will go ahead at all this year.

51 thoughts on “Window closing for inter-county Championships

  1. With the current rate of infection, and the lack of acceptance by so many of how infectious Covid-19 actually is … there is no chance of the intercounty championships being held.
    The later months of this year are likely going to be at least as bad as now. Clusters are going to crop up endlessly…team members are going to get infected, knocking these teams out of action until they get clearance…if they get clearance.
    No. Not going to happen.
    Roll on 2021 with fingers crossed.

  2. I hope it does happen but I can’t see it at the moment. I am guessing we would need to be at least a month without any pockets of or localised outbreaks before management would see things in a brighter light. Should the slimmed down championship have been ran in the summer months and the clubs left till winter? Maybe, but with Covid there’s always something else. For every solution, Covid has a problem. The f@&*ing thing.
    It could be a while.

  3. Under difficult circumstances the GAA have made good decisions so far. Kicking the inter county championship down the road and concentrating on the club scene was the right call, prioritised the majority of players and not the elite few which is what has happened in recent years. Tough decisions will need to be made in the coming weeks too. Finishing county championships needs to be the focus. I cant see the inter county championship going ahead, with the current virus numbers and isolated lockdowns I jusr cant see it happening. Add to that the cost of running it. The majority of Counties simply dont have the money. Kevin McStay is correct, are counties going to spend money they dont have on a max 3 games. One thing that will come out of covid is the unstainable cost of running teams ending. Gone are the days of throwing 1 million at a team, 10,000 to run a training session is insane for an amateur sport, the money would be much better spent throughout the underage scene. There is going to be a major shake up of the inter county structure and it’s not before time.

  4. Not sure if 10k to run a training session is correct but I read that same article.
    10k is 50 people at 200 euro each.
    Kevin McStsy had said before it was 10k a week.

  5. Professional ethos in a so called amateur game, but has to be done to try and keep in touch in the highest sponsored Counties.

  6. Unlikely there will be intercounty in depths of winter and cases rising. Too much risk involved. Western People have an indepth report today “how on earth is mayo county board going to make ends meet”. Then there is the debt crippling football in the whole county and taking away money from all grades.

  7. maybe a good thing for Mayo if no inter county football this year, watching Chris Barrett play in Dublin Championship tonight shows that he is not up to the pace of Championship, with many Mayo players of similar age especially in defence , maybe its time to let them all go and concentrate on a young team, no place for over 30,s in the modern game.

  8. Hard to imagine we will ever see the county game back the way it was . Not for the foreseeable anyway . Social distancing could be with us for multiple years , in our games that could end the top level stuff , can’t see how you can expect to make it financially viable without large attendances . Club scene likely to become the only show in town .

    Don’t believe GAA will be the only sport to suffer , any sports team depending on crowds for income will suffer greatly , lower league teams in the uk etc , Scotland especially where tv money is minuscule for most clubs . League of Ireland too .

    Depressing times .

  9. what is wrong with people? Covid 19 is killing people worldwide.
    All attempts so far to try to limit deaths has concentrated on social distancing. Here we are wanting situations where full body contact is the order of the day. what do you think that does to people in ordinary life situations. why bother about social distancing etc in shops etc? look at footballers celebrating scoring a goal. Social distancing?? a joke.
    Have any of you lost a father, mother, sister, brother to this cold killer?
    A few months or a year without football is not going to kill anybody..
    Wise up.

  10. But Mayoman in Down, it is a lot more than a few months in the year, this all started in March and here we are in mid August, its looking like this could be around well into 2021. I actually thought things would have passed in 3 months when Covid19 firstly came to Ireland.
    The Vaccine will be a massive psychological boost when made available.
    Some of us ( me ) dont understand the illness one gets from this Virus and the long term damage it can cause.

  11. There are several vaccines in late stage human trials so I’d be confident we’ll see one in the next few months, but could be a lot longer than that before most of the country is vaccinated

  12. The GAA have performed very well so far. However, they must be careful not to push the boundaries as we get to know more about this terrible disease…and as the infection trends continue to disappoint.

    Covid-19 is not only a killer. It also, often, leaves significant after effects. Even those who apparently are symptomless, can often be left with lunge and heart damage as a result. Our players are vulnerable to this and should not be endangered.

    Covid-19 is highly infectious. This is what the GAA must keep in mind…if the plans to run the championship do actually come about.

    The only way that I see the intercounty championship happening is
    1. If the GAA can accept the financial burden that there will be no crowds and
    2. That intercounty training sessions are banned. Mayo players travelling down from Dublin etc and training with others from other localities is a non-runner.
    3. The government is more strict in enforcing and regulating issues such as mask-wearing in public, physical distancing, get togethers in houses or restaurants etc, etc.

    I am, also, afraid that the most important messages are not being emphasised enough by government. That is, that this is not about you, yourself, but more about the more vulnerable people whom you can infect with the disease.

    I just feel in general that the government needs to up it’s game…big time. I don’t think it will, and, as a consequence, there is unlikely to be any change for the better in regard to infection rates.

    I just cannot see an intercounty championship happening.

  13. Forget it….let’s all pray we get the club championship finished. That’s will be an achievement in itself.

  14. there are numerous vaccines in stage 3 trials but no evidence so far any of them are effective, thats what stage 3 trials establish.
    If we have a championship once again the situation favors the Dubs.
    They have the money and the cost of training is less. Weaker counties will not be able to afford intense training and Covid outbreaks will force some counties to forfeit.
    Is perhaps GAA pessimism a campaign for allowing larger crowds?

  15. Let’s face it. We cannot run a competition that we cannot afford.

    It begs the question of how damaging has so called ” games development ” become ?

    It costs millions nowadays to be in with a chance to compete in an all Ireland final.

    Our amateur sport it seems, cannot now function at county level because everything from conditioning to team meals requires mega money. Money which through current circumstances, will not be there.

    While CP was dishing out the cash to their nearest and dearest and every other County was hood winked into pumping Dosh into their set ups in order to try and hold on to the coat tails of the almighty, the virus has decided there is no more oil for the chain.

    While people still attended matches over the years, despite the total inequality of the pay outs by CP to certain unnamed counties, this year it would seem there will be no screaming 10’s of thousands stumping up increased gate fees to follow their home counties.

    The virus is not CP’s fault but I do feel that the money it takes to compete with the best is a monster they have helped create.

    CP is about to learn that without the hoarding throngs, there is nothing. Without the likes of mayo supporters who they have sometimes shown scant regard for and have run us the length and breadth of this country to late throw ins. Without the likes of us the damn thing does not work.

    Nonsensical training, using every type of new training regime, restricted diets, statisticians, Gps’s, back room teams, team physchologists and everything else thrown in, and for what ??
    To get ordinary people and push them beyond their boundaries, beyond a level where they should be able to perform.

    The game started out as an amateur team sport but sadly, that was a long long time ago.

    The only way forward is to go back. Back to what any county can afford.

    It’s time to get rid of all the million euro expenses. Keep the game amateur like it was envisioned to be.

    Drop these enormous so called development expenses.
    Drop gate entry fees.
    Limit what a county can spend in a year on their county teams.
    Level the playing field so that all counties can have a chance at glory.

    Maybe some of the poorer counties don’t need more money as much as some of the bigger counties should be asked to operate with alot less money.
    Club teams should also only be allowed to spend a set maximum on team preparation. This would prevent players in richer counties showing up for county training having had all the back room benefits from their club and thereby beating any limits that might be placed on county expenditures.

    This year would be a good year for the powers that be to have a good rethink on where county competitions have been going.

    Current trends have been hammering the nails slowly in to the football coffin.

    Personally, I don’t think there should be any county competition if it’s going to leave every county in the country in the Red. That’s just the money side of things.

    If we are been told we have to wash our hands and wear masks and distance from each other then how in god’s name is it safe to send 30 lads or ladies out on to a pitch with the intention of chasing each other down. It makes no sense.

    Some people say they would die to see county football this year, but, would they really ?

  16. Hadn’t fully realised how much my Summer revolved around Mayo GAA til now..And not just our games but watching other counties too..Analysing our chances ( yet again!) , reading every post on the blog, and on and on..If Im honest, as ridiculous as a championship in October sounded Id have gladly taken it if covid conditions were right.But they are all over the place at the moment ..It is utterly depressing.

  17. C’mon all of yiz. The club championships are progressing (and drawing TV audiences too). That is progress. October is a long way off in Covid time.

  18. Agree that IC action may be a stretch this year, and certainly highly unlikely to have people attending. I have found it strange not being able to go to matches, but the longer it goes on, then may miss it less. Can see them increasing up to 500 for club games but will not see big numbers at games for a significant period of time.

    One point to note is that much of the money goes back to facilities so lack of crowds will have an effect in years to come on money spent on grounds etc.

  19. Facilities is one thing , making repayments on loans is another . I dread to think what it will do to the county game if we can’t go back to normal for next year’s championship, which you’d be inclined to think is 50/50 at best at this stage . It’s only nine/ten months away at this stage . As for this year , just forget it , it’s a complete waste of time & money with little to no crowds . I always got the feeling the last month or so they were just kicking the can down the road in hope they could get at least half capacity back into Croker by semi final stage . Don’t understand the thinking behind it myself in the context how in gods name could you control entry and exit from ground to maintain social distancing protocol? Impossible surely .

  20. Mayo news reporting that knockout stages of club championship may be played behind closed doors.

  21. I’m thinking if the inter county games go ahead in October they will be behind closed doors as well. Why
    Put the players and mentors at risk In winter time most likely out in the worst of weather. I think the Gaa will scrap plans to finish the league and championship this year and start again next year if it’s safe to do so.

  22. The window has closed this evening for club supporters. IF it opens up again, it will be in time for county finals.

  23. Yes Justin in place from tonight.

    People need to accept that these decisions were made by medical personnel, with a greater knowledge and more information about the virus than your average gaa fan.

  24. People don’t have to accept f all , show me the logic behind it and then we can try and understand. It makes absolutely no sense that students will be going back to school , that restaurants/pubs can have people inside but you can’t have a couple of hundred people scattered round a gaa pitch outdoors to watch their local side . Absolute nonsense, the contradictions in these restrictions is mind boggling and this aul airy fairy attitude of “where did you study medicine, I’ll trust the experts” blah blah , is a pure cop out . Is this even democratic at this stage . Keep this trend going and I predict a serious breakdown in society . People won’t take this much longer.

    Where / when does it end , what if we never beat the virus , do we live like this till we die ? Serious question btw , cause nobody is predicting when it ends , 2021,22/2324/25 or never ?

    GAA are fighting this one I’m reading now .

  25. Sean I absolutely agree..I dont know where the logic comes from.that 200 people cant stand around a ground but restaurants and bars can continue to run as they have been…

  26. Agree. Sean Burke, they are treating us like morons now who can’t be trusted to do the right thing. As you say a couple of hundred supporters scattered around a large stadium is hardly a major risk of spreading anything. I think they will lose the support of the people if they don’t rethink the outdoor gathering restrictions in particular. People in general have been cooperative, and should not be punished further.

  27. Most club games are not in big stadiums. I have been to 15 or so games since lockdown ended. I didn’t see any masks, people were not scattered around they were all standing together usually just one side of pitch, no social distancing at any games.

  28. @just a thought. Agree 100%. I’ve been at a few matches ànd absolutely no attempt made to social distance. Mayo GAA Tv were very careful not to highlight crowds at matches. Little or no supporters on one side of the pitch and supporters packed together on the other side.
    We are lucky we are able to complete club championship and no chance of seeing inter county football this year imo.

  29. Latest news is demoralizing. Ive been supportive of almost all government restrictions so far believing them for the greater good but its really hard to square these latest developments.

    As far as i can tell the club championships have been tipping away successfully and carefully in all counties, there were a sprinkling of clubs around the country who had cases and followed the guidance well, ceasing activities when required.
    The GAA will get a kicking for their statement last night but they are entitled to ask ‘Why?’ at this point. GAA have gone above and beyond throughout the crisis as an organisation, stadiums offered out for test centers, club initiatives looking out for elderly locals etc. The GAA have done their bit and now have been punished with arbitrary measures.

    I ask you, where is the logic in a limit of 15 lads only training tonight with extended squad of 30 meeting up to play on the weekend?
    Lets keep piling the low paid workers into the production line at the meat factories though eh?

    On a lighter note, my auld fella (75 years old) is asking if he can tog out this weekend so he can get into see our champo game :-0

  30. Have attended all our club matches at nearly every age group – no effort at social distancing – masks a rarity- covid officer? Mentioned at a meeting but never identified – head in the sand as far as covid is concerned

  31. Personably the games I’ve been at people have been well spread out…also there is no requirement to wear a mask outside as someone suggested…utter madness and OTT reaction.

  32. Training in pods of 15 with no interaction between pods will put a strain on club management.
    We are fortunate to have an inter club season. Let’s hope we can get through it. Maintaining social distance at games, even with max attendance of 200 was an impossible tasks. What kind of controls would clubs need to put in and who was going to enforce restrictions.

  33. New restrictions are not specifically for GAA as some seem to suggest, soccer and rugby much harder hit because they are professional. Covid numbers are rising, emergency medical council are saying there is evidence of transmition from gatherings before and after sporting events, some posters here are confirming lack of social distancing at games which I’m in no doubt is happening. We all love sport but at the end of the day it isn’t important, keeping people in work, getting pupils back in school and keeping the economy going are important. If we slip back into full lock down then the whole country is fucked. As long as the country can keeps working economically then I couldn’t care less if I ever seen another game of football.

  34. Catcol is right, Oct is a long way off. Let’s just see how things pan out. I agree with Sean that restrictions dont appear logical.

    An intercounty championship without attendees is better than none at all provided its deemed safe, but my faith in decision making now at the top level is not as strong as it was.

  35. It looks like the intercounty will be called off now. Some county boards have said they wont be able to fund their senior teams (our own CB say “funds are extremely tight’ thats a quote ftom yesterday’s Mayo News). If Government are saying it is not safe for people to be at games, surely there is a risk to the players who are the most important people in all this.

  36. Mayomad if you couldn’t care less if you ever see another game of football you’re not Mayomad. Intercounty will not happen with no crowds. Every county board and Croke Park would lose a lot of money

  37. El Tod, if playing football behind closed doors or not at all means the country doesn’t go into full lockdown then I’m happy with that. Much more important things in life than football like being able to pay mortgage and put food on the table. People need to cop on a little, covid numbers are rising each day, we need to be worrying about another lockdown which will cripple the country and people losing their lives, not worrying about seeing a football match

  38. Behind closed doors would work if the GAA were not already signed into a TV deal. A new deal would need to cover all teams expenses in the championship & a profit for the gaa. Perhaps a deal could be negotiated, it would be box office fot T V

  39. Can’t see intercounty football this year.
    We’ll be doing very well to have it back in 2021. Strange that the new restrictions permit no more than 15 together outside, yet 30 lads are allowed on a pitch playing a contact sport. Doesn’t make sense if government are being consistent.

  40. Very disappointing developments in the last few days..No way can I see any Inter County Competition this year…We went to a stage for about a month, where new confirmed case’s remained 10/20 a day..Low numbers by our standards
    . But flights were and still are coming in the US, the only EU Country allowing flights from the US… In New Zealand, Everyone flying in, is now and since the beginning of the crisis was being tested, and regardless of the results, taken by the state to a place where they are placed in compulsory isolation, and it’s is enforced…Even so with those maximum safe gaurds the New Zealand authorities have identified 27 positive cases of people flying into the country, from the very small numbers flying in.. Those people have been isolating and won’t be, and at no stage were allowed mix with the General Public until they are deemed no longer a risk… Draconian I know, but an Island can implement such measures, and it definitely works, New Zealand have currently about 70 active case’s, including the recent setbacks, where they don’t know really where they came from. Where was the testing in Ireland fon worker’s at Meat Processing Plants until a weeks ago?…It had been very well flagged by numerous outbreaks in several countries that they were a much higher risk, and should have been happening weekly…It’s bad news for the GAA, the FAI and the IRFU, but unfortunately I don’t think there is anything we can do about it, except continue with observing the protocols as best we can, and I know that so many have been doing so since the beginning of this Crisis..It’s certainly frustrating that, the people running this country have allowed so many holes in our defense against Covid 19 since the very beginning of the Crisis!

  41. I’m not at all sure behind closed door games would be box office . Be a little excitement at first but I think it would fizzle out . Be absolutely depressing watching an all Ireland final and an empty croke park .

    At some point in this whole mess we will just have to take a chance and return to the old normal . You cannot expect our youth to live like this forevermore.

    I remember reading a quote from some business man in the US at the infant stages of covid and him saying he’d rather sacrifice his own life for the sake of his children in relation to economic shutdown . I thought what a horrible Basta , typical ruthless capitalist so and so etc but now I’m thinking he had a bloody good valid point.

    It cannot be allowed to go on indefinitely, at some point the greater good has to be factored in .

  42. It ain’t gonna happen guys I fear where we’ll have spectators or indeed any action at all! I would also think anything happening in 2021 or onwards could be doubtful as well. We live in the most depressing times and I see it first hand how much it is affecting society…the ‘novelty’ is long gone and the stark reality that people are facing is huge. The grit and determination that was originally present is fading fast. Anxiety, insomnia, and sustained money worries to name a few are becoming ever present. Please be as kind as possible to one another and follow NPHET advice. A vaccine is not happening soon I’d imagine but the only saving grace for the winter is that influenza cases may not be as bad as we imagine this winter in Ireland. The vaccine in Europe is manufactured according to cases in Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong etc. Fortunately due to mask wearing worldwide there seems to have been fewer than normal cases there this year so here’s hoping

  43. @Sean Bourke, I think you will find that it Borris Johnson advisor, Dominic Cummins…he certainly said something very similar, and then proceeded go on a very long journey up the west coast of England, when England was in full lockdown..The UK has the highest death rate from Covid and it’s economy has also taken the biggest hit economically..His advise has certainly cost many thousands of lives!

  44. There is a report in today’s Independent, article by Colm Keys.
    3 County Teams are suspected of Training prior to the September 14 deadline.

  45. Very good bet, is the double..Mayo will still be league champions in 2021 and Dublin will still be All Ireland Champions in 2021

  46. Whatever about Championship I’d be fairly certain they’ll get the 2020 league finished… sure there’s only 2 rounds left and plenty of time to get them played

  47. My local club chairman says that he has over 100 volunteers for doing umpire for a game on Sunday, Only way to get to see the game!

  48. I know it appears illogical to have 30 players compete in matches, and to allow schools back, while not permitting outdoor gatherings of more than 15.
    For anyone not inclined to follow the government’s guidelines, or who does not see the logic behind them, the following video from Ronan Glynn explains all in a clear, coherent manner.
    (I am sorry, but you will have to copy and paste the link into you browser.)

    Also there are a number of really good podcasts hosted by Eamonn Dunphy on “The Stand”. This one in particular is highly informative…if scary.

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