GAA fans across the country were given a grateful boost on Friday when it was revealed that action looks set to return to the playing field in coming weeks.
Shay Bannon, Chairman of the GAA Advisory Group, released a 15-page ‘Safe Return to Gaelic Games’ document outlining the road ahead and how the GAA plans to proceed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan is that GAA pitches are scheduled to re-open on the 29th June with non-contact training permitted for all age groups, with groups of no more than 10 players, and two coaches required for non-contact training in adherence with social distancing guidelines.
Phase 4 of the ‘Safe Return to Gaelic Games’ plan commences on the 20th July when all forms of group training is permitted with the aim for club championships and competitions to start from the 31st July, with 11 weeks allocated for the club setting.
Derrygonnelly Harps captain Ryan Jones believes the roadmap will be warmly welcomed across all GAA circles in Fermanagh and he believes this will give the people great heart as they can now look forward to a club championship commencing in coming weeks.
“It was very welcome news because everyone has been really missing the football this last couple of months. At one stage it looked as if there was going to be no football at all this year so anything is a bonus at this stage. We should know more in the next week or so regarding the time frame and actual fixtures but generally this is great news for everyone and a target for people to work towards.”
The final phase of the plan will roll out on the 14th September when inter-county training is allowed to return, subject to no change in medical advice. All being well, inter-county championship matches will be allowed to resume from the 17th October.
While the path is clear in regard to a return to action, the GAA plan outlines a vast array of guidelines and precautions that all clubs and counties must take before any resumption of activity is permitted.
Each club is required to appoint a ‘Covid Supervisor’ who will be responsible to oversee that all action taken by the respective teams is in adherence with social distancing guidelines. Other duties will including taking temperature checks of all team participants, both players and backroom team members, upon entry to the ground. All participants have been asked to complete a health questionnaire which is to be submitted to the ‘Covid Supervisor’ on the way into the ground.