GAA remain cautious over return to play
By Shane Brophy
Tipperary County Board have downplayed suggestions that inter-county GAA will have its elite status restored in the short term to allow training to resume in the coming weeks.
Following the revelation last week that the GAA’s elite status for the playing of the inter-county games came to an end following the completion of the 2020 championships, a report in the Irish Mail on Sunday suggested via Louth county board chairperson and T.D. Peter Fitzpatrick that the GAA would get the elite status restored when the government announces its latest roadmap in terms of Covid-19 restrictions next Monday.
However, Tipperary County Board secretary Tim Floyd confirmed that he had heard nothing regarding a shift in policy which would allow inter-county teams to return to training, when the GAA gives the green light for it after they confirmed last week that there would be no return to any aspect of on-field activity until after Easter (April 4th) at the earliest.
It led to speculation that it could lead to a change to the planned schedule with the club championships starting first, as they did in 2020. However, Tim Floyd doesn’t feel there is an appetite for the club game to start first and confirmed that following an online meeting of the six provincial secretaries with Munster Council yesterday (Tuesday), there was unanimous support that when the season does get up and running that it will remain inter-county first.
“We are hearing rumours from different places that they are looking at trying to put the club first but that is the last thing we all want to be honest,” he said.
“I’m not so sure where it is coming from and why there is a reason for it.
“They are only rumours and we are not hearing anything definite, but we would be making representations anyway to keep inter-county first.”
If that is the case, then the possibility of going straight into the championship arises but Tim Floyd feels that while the National League would be a financial drain for counties as there would be no revenue accruing from it this year, the teams would welcome the games to tune up for the championship.
“The football league has already been watered down with three games per county on a regional basis and they may decide to do the same with hurling with semi-finals and finals and run it off over a couple of weeks.
“I hope they don’t drop it altogether because if you don’t have that you’ll have counties playing challenge matches which is worse,” he said.
While the semi-professional League of Ireland in soccer is due to resume next month, the GAA remain extremely cautious about restarting any element of activities, including training, with pressure growing for young people, in particular, to be allowed some aspect of physical activity, particularly when the schools reopen as they are expected to next month.
“There is a fear that if they do open up there will be another spike and they’ll end up having to stop again,” Floyd revealed.
“So, they are trying to ensure that whenever they do start back, they’ll be able to stay back and it is hard to blame them for that.
“If they do decide to go with senior teams back training at elite level, they could decide to open up the pitches to juveniles as well.
“It’s about finding a balance of what they want to do rather than rushing everything back together.”