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'We'd like people to call them out' - No GAA sanctions for county teams returning to training early

Inter-county sides are not permitted to return to training until 14 September.

File photo of Mayo players warming up.
File photo of Mayo players warming up.
Image: Andy Marlin/INPHO

THE GAA WILL not impose sanctions on county teams who resume training prior to 14 September, but have encouraged people to “call them out” if they do so. 

It’s anticipated that county managers will want access to players whose clubs have been knocked out of local championships early.

The Association have already stated that county sides who train prior to mid-September will not be insured.

“We’d like people to call them out but we’re not actually intending to impose any penalties,” said president John Horan.

While it’s their intention at present, director general Tom Ryan didn’t rule out the prospect of penalties coming into play if they see fit at a later date.

“We haven’t really looked at it in detail yet,” said Ryan.

“Today is about the fixtures programme, the calendar and what that might look like. The next step is looking at what safeguards are put around that.

“I think myself over the last three or four months and the reason we’re at the stage we’re at is because the country as a whole and the Association has shown a great degree of restraint and personal responsibility and that’s the thing we’d like to rely on first and foremost before we get into…it hasn’t been a summer for penalties and sanctions. 

“I’m not really sure that’s the right realm for this thing either.

“But we have to do an awful lot of things right in order for us to get to that stage. Part of that is abiding by the timelines and principles that we sent out.

“So we’ll be asking people to abide by them because they’re the right thing to do. If there’s a second stage required in terms of sanctions of rules, penalties and so on yeah of course we’ll look at that. But that’s not one for today.”

john-horan John Horan and Tom Ryan. Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

The Gaelic Players Association this week called for an open draw to take place in the football championship without any provincial competitions taking place.

That came under consideration but the GAA decided to retain the provincials for a couple of reasons.

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“We didn’t rule anything in or out when we sat down to do the fixtures,” said director of player, club, and games administration Feargal McGill.

“A couple of things though did occur to us while we were doing those, the first thing is if you play the provincial championships in football, you’re going to have four teams with silverware at the end of the year. In hurling, you’re going to have two teams as winners and possibly three if a different team wins an All-Ireland. 

“So that was one of the reasons, you’re going to have five finals and at least four teams with silverware. Another reason was, you have to consider, what are you trying to solve in terms of having an open draw?

“Usually people will tell you, what you’re going to solve is avoiding cannon fodder for the big teams. But an open draw does not solve that, in fact it might add to it. So on balance, we felt the best approach was the provincial championships.”

The 2020 season will be completed within the calendar year, which the GPA also called for.

“The big thing is we’re keeping an eye on 2021 as well,” said McGill explaining the decision. “So if you went into January, February with your championships, it causes mayhem for 2021.

“I suppose we wanted to minimise the damage, for want of a better word, that Covid has done to the GAA and done to our fixtures.

“It’s like pulling off a plaster, get it done as quickly as you can and try to get back to normal as soon as you can. We will be coming back obviously with a 2021 Master Fixtures Plan later in the year and I think it’ll make more sense then as to why we did what we did.

“We’re still probably going to have to compromise a bit around the 2021 calendar. But if you went into January and February, you have to build in a rest period after the All-Ireland finals are over.

“So really if you’re talking about playing an All-Ireland final in February you’re talking about not being able to restart until March or April and the knock-on effect of that would obviously be a negative one for clubs. So that was at the centre of our thinking as well.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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