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GAA president says championships could be pushed into 2021

John Horan also said the club game will be prioritised once games resume.

A view of Croke Park.
A view of Croke Park.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

THE ALL-IRELAND SENIOR football and hurling championships may be pushed back into 2021, according to GAA President John Horan. 

Speaking to Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One earlier today, Horan confirmed the GAA will consider playing the 2020 championships into next year if public health officials allow it.

“We’re open to that if that’s a possibility,” he said.

 ”We would just adjust the 2021 season. I think there’s a hunger and an appetite out there among both players and spectators to see the games being played. I think people would accept that if we were to make such a decision that it would be for the benefit of everyone involved.”

The GAA issued a statement earlier this month to say the staging of games prior to July is highly unlikely, and Horan admitted today that deadline is likely to be pushed further back. 

“Until the health authorities declare contact sports safe, we cannot make a decision about returning to play. That’s the key question in it all: when will contact sport be safe?” 

Horan also seemed to rule out the possibility of staging games behind closed doors, and said the club game will be prioritised when the Association is again permitted to organise games. 

“The other feature to this is we’re an amateur sport. I know there’s a lot of speculation that professional sports like rugby and soccer may come back here in Ireland and overseas, but that’s probably in the sense that they’ve cocooned their players.

“Our amateur athletes, they go back to their families, they go back to their workplace. We can’t put any of those people, or those people they come in contact with, at risk just for the sake of playing games. We won’t be making any rushed decisions on this.” 

The GAA president also refuted a story that emerged over the weekend, which claimed the Department of Sport are considering a plan to allow inter-county teams to resume training at some point during the summer.  

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“I’m quite shocked by this story, this was very much a nothing story over the weekend and to be honest with you, somewhat irresponsible,” Horan said.

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

“We’re regularly in contact with government departments and at no stage have we discussed the return to training of inter-county players with any government department. I’m kind of aghast as to where this story has come from.” 

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Gavin Cooney

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