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GAA developing limited rapid Covid testing approach for players in 2020 championship plans

Inter-county action is set to resume on Saturday 17 October.

Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

THE GAA HAVE revealed that they are developing a limited rapid testing approach if they have to respond to a suspected Covid-19 case in a squad in the build-up to an inter-county game.

The revised 2020 fixtures plan, which will begin on the Saturday 17 October, has been nailed down and was distributed this afternoon.

During a media conference call, it was outlined by Feargal McGill, the GAA’s Director of club, player and games administration, how the approach would work.

“We’re currently examining what I would call a very limited rapid testing approach which will be only used in the three or four days leading up to a game if there was a positive test in a squad. Now it would be hugely different to what is in professional sports but it might be something that helps us to ensure both the health of the players and that the game can go ahead.

“It’s currently at tender stage so I can’t really comment much more but I would emphasise again it would be a very limited approach. I’d also emphasise to be fair our current control measures and just how well they’ve worked at club level.

“There’s only a really tiny proportion of the thousands of games that have been scheduled had to be postponed for Covid reasons and actually in reality even that handful, they could probably have gone ahead. It’s just that the fixture calendar allowed them to be postponed. We haven’t really had a situation where there’s been more than one or two players.”

fergal-mcgill GAA chief Feargal McGill Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

It was also highlighted how the championship fixtures plan does not have much room for postponements.

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“Look there have been very few instances where an entire team, in fact there have been none, where an entire team has been ruled out. So we’re not really anticipating that. The calendar doesn’t really allow much time for postponements.

“One of the regulations that will be going into our competitions, I don’t mind telling you this, is that really we’ll only be able to grant postponements where there’s a 13-day window between the round where the team is looking for the postponement and the next round of the competition.

“But if you go through the chart there today, there’s very few instances where that’s allowed. One exception to that would be All-Ireland semi-finals and finals.”

McGill also stated that only Dublin entering level five lockdown will prevent Croke Park from hosting the deciding matches at the close of the All-Ireland championships. It is regarded as unlikely that semi-finals will be played at an alternative venue while midweek dates have again been ruled out for potential refixtures.

a-general-view-of-the-sam-maguire-and-liam-maccarthy-cups-ahead-of-the-draw Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Leinster GAA chiefs are to shortly finalise the venues for their provincial ties while the GAA will be releasing their overall TV coverage plans next week.

McGill also responded to questions on the structure for next year’s league.

“We haven’t given enormous thought to next year. Obviously we have some ideas in our head. I think it’s fair to say that I don’t think we’ll be able to play the full league in the format that we’ve known up to now. It’s under active consideration, the idea of regionalising it a bit better. However, that’s not as simple as you might think when you actually sit down to do it. But we’ll look at that.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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