GAA president John Horan can’t see contact sport coming on board in the short term

The Hogan Stand in Croke Park with the image of the GAA President John Horan in the top right corner, Horan has stated that the GAA are open to carrying the 2020 championship into next year if it can’t be completed by December

GAA president John Horan stated that the association is open to the All Ireland Championships carrying over into 2021 if they can’t be completed by December.

Horan spoke to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ’s Today programme and was asked about the prospect of completing the 2020 championships the following year if its not possible to complete the competitions by December.

“Yeah,” he replied, “we’re open to that if it’s a possibility. We’d just adjust the 2020 season – definitely.

“I think there’s a hunger and appetite out there among both players and spectators to see games so I think people would accept if we were to make that decision that it would be for the benefit of everyone involved.”

The GAA issued a statement at the start of the month saying it would be highly unlikely that games would be staged until July but the GAA president believes that will be pushed back further.

“Well we’re taking our guidance from the health authorities and did issue a statement that we wouldn’t be back until July and I think we can push that back farther now again but control of the virus is the key issue for all. Games are games but as I’ve said all along, we’re not going to put anybody at risk.

“One thing about the playing of the games is that they’re a contact sport. Social distancing at the moment is a high priority and I can’t see contact sport coming on board in the short term.”

We’re an amateur sport

“The other feature of this is that we’re an amateur sport.

“I know there’s a lot of speculation that professional sports like rugby and soccer may come back, maybe in Ireland or overseas but that’s probably in the sense that they can cocoon their players.

“Our players are amateur athletes and they go back to their families and workplace and we can’t put them or anyone they come into contact with, at risk just for the sake of playing games. We won’t be making any rushed decision on this.

“We’ve always taken our guidance from the health authorities and we’ll continue to do that and until they declare that contact sport is safe we won’t be playing games.

“If and when we do return, the club scene will be our priority because 98 per cent of our activity happens at club level and that includes our inter-county.

“So, as we’re looking at it at the moment, our return initially will be back to club activity before we engage with inter-county.”

When asked about a story that RTÉ broke yesterday about the Department of Sport considering allowing inter-county teams return to training later in the summer subject to rigorous testing, Horan refuted the story and stated the GAA had not brought forward such suggestions.

“At no stage have we discussed the return to training of inter-county players with any Government department so I’m kind of aghast as to where this story has come from.

“It has caused a nervousness among membership throughout the country: ‘are we as an organisation putting the inter-county player ahead the club player?’