With pressure mounting after more restrictions lifted this week the GAA may announce their Championship plans early.
Last Friday, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar lead the country into Phase 2 of lifting restrictions as Ireland recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously, the association were expected to announce plans in August, but it’s now understood that plans may be revealed when the country moves to Phase 3 on June 29th.
Croke Park officials are understood to have already shaped the format of the 2020 Championship, and it’s likely they’ll show their hand at the end of this month.
Return to play roadmap
The GAA’s COVID-19 Advisory Group are drafting a “return to play” template with an emphasis on players who compete at the highest level. Inter County players will be under pressure to complete their county club championships and be ready for the Inter County Championship in a very short turnaround time.
A plan to complete the final rounds of the National Hurling and Football Leagues is still being tabled. But again, a final decision has yet to be made. And with the CCCC needed to rubber stamp any plans, the Gaelic Players Association will reach out to County Captains and representatives next week for their feedback.
Inter County action is expected to recommence on the weekend of October 17/18 and there were suggestions the final rounds of the League could be the starting point. The championship is still expected to be a straight knockout competition. And there is a likelihood that the championship could spill over into early 2021.
Club Business Comes First
When GAA officials made contact with counties this week it was made clear that club matters must come first. The club championship window will run from July 31st to October 11th. Inter County training can resume on September 14th, one month before the All Ireland begins.
Pressure from Inter County managers is expected as they look to gather their players before the club season ends. And as a result of the uncertainty, the GPA are working with the GAA’s COVID-19 Advisory Group on their Return To Play document.
A specific plan will be drafted in the coming weeks, with logistics and scheduling a key part of that template.