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GAA hopeful of completing underage competitions and urges fans to be responsible with celebrations

President John Horan also speaking today after the draw for the All-Ireland SHC qualifiers.

GAA President John Horan.
GAA President John Horan.
Image: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

GAA PRESIDENT JOHN Horan says that the association is hopeful that the underage competitions that were postponed recently will be completed when it is safe to do so.

The inter-county minor and U20 championships were paused last month after Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions were imposed across the country.

As a result, the U20 All-Ireland football final between Dublin and Galway was cancelled just a few days before it was due to take place while some Leinster U20 hurling championship fixtures were played off before the postponement took effect.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland after the draw for the All-Ireland SHC qualifiers, Horan explained:

“Once the Government levels are rowed back, and we’re allowed to actually play underage competitions, we will recommence those competitions. [We will] obviously give the teams involved a little bit of preparatory time but it is our intention to complete those competitions.

“And I think with the way numbers are going, and the anticipation of the improvements of the levels that we will actually be sitting at, I would be very positive that those competitions will be seen out to their conclusion.”

Horan also commented on testing procedures for senior inter-county players while the season is in progress.

He said that doctors involved with teams have been fully briefed on their approach to coping with Covid-19, while also pointing out that they will not be carrying out blanket testing on players.

“Our doctors on every county team have all been brought up to speed with the protocols that are in place.

It’s not a recommended practice that you do mass testing. We have a Covid committee that has a great medical expertise on it. The advice on that is that testing should be done when it’s needed.

“We did bring in a screening programme and there is the PCR test available there as well. They’re available to any player any time once there’s a concern on the part of the player or any team. But it’s not rolled out on a mass basis because that’s not considered medically, the approach.”

The GAA suspended all club games in recent weeks, following a number of incidents relating to post-match celebrations where there was a lack of social distancing.

Horan says that he was “hugely disappointed” with those scenes and says that everyone is expected to act responsibly when celebrating important victories in the inter-county championships.

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“I would hope everyone out there would act in a responsible manner. Since this pandemic started in this country, it has been down to people’s trust and responsibility. I would expect people to have learnt lessons from that, seeing the actions that we took [in] shutting things down.

And that people would behave in a proper manner. If teams win, they just win and it’s different times and you just have to accept that everything you do has to be done in a responsible manner.”

Looking forward, Horan said that the association is working on plans for the 2021 season which they plan to unveil later this year. Action normally gets underway at the end of January but Horan says that will not be the case due to the Covid-19 interruption.

He also outlined that postponing matches due to Covid-19 outbreaks this year, will only be possible from the All-Ireland semi-final stage onwards.

“It could be at that [semi-final] stage. Only at semi-final and All-Ireland final stage. Up to that stage, the games just have to go on. Everybody appreciates and accepts the actual tight timeframe that we have found ourselves in in running these competitions so that has been laid out in the regulations.” 

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