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GAA games will be called off if government issues order

The GAA is on high alert as coronavirus spreads across Europe, and is prepared to put the national interest first if needs be.

Discussions have already taken place in Croke Park.
Discussions have already taken place in Croke Park.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

LEADING ADMINISTRATORS IN the GAA have already begun preparations for a severe impact on their fixture schedule in the event that an outbreak of the coronavirus occurs in Ireland.

The42 understands that meetings on the subject occurred yesterday in the office of the GAA’s director general as well as by members of the Central Competitions Control Committee, the body responsible for arranging national fixtures.

Conscious of what happened in 2001, when the outbreak of the foot and mouth disease led to a four-week postponement of inter-county and club matches, the GAA’s leading officials are preparing to act in the national interest, if asked to do so.

As the global crisis has yet to hit Ireland directly, the GAA has yet to receive any direct contact from the state apparatus in terms of what they have to do as an organisation. They will, however, be guided by the HSE and the department of health.

If that means postponing matches, they will. As for now, it is business as usual, with this weekend’s scheduled inter-county league games still set to go ahead.

It is understood the GAA’s fixtures committee already have an alternative plan in place and are monitoring the situation closely, particularly the words of health minister, Simon Harris, who wants the IRFU to postpone the Six Nations game against Italy on Saturday week.

Harris said that staging the game would pose a “significant risk because a very large number of people would be travelling from what is now an infected region”.

While the GAA has minimal international travel, and none whatsoever to Italy, they are conscious of the minister’s words in relation to the mass gathering and movement of people. That, in a nutshell, is what happens every weekend in Ireland during the league campaign.

In this respect, Croke Park officials are prepared to take on government advice. In other words, if asked by the department of health to postpone matches, they will.

The games immediately in question are the remaining fixtures in the national hurling and football leagues, which are due to be completed by the end of March. Should a month-long ban on fixtures be suggested by government officials, then it is highly unlikely that this year’s league will be completed at any stage in 2020, as the GAA’s fixture calendar is already heavily congested.

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About the author:

Garry Doyle

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