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Club fare back on July 31

County Board to decide championship format


Chadwicks Wexford Park will come alive to the sound of club players in action once again from July 31.

Chadwicks Wexford Park will come alive to the sound of club players in action once again from July 31.


Chadwicks Wexford Park will come alive to the sound of club players in action once again from July 31.

The GAA. has unveiled its 'Safe Return to Gaelic Games' document, which reveals the phased approach to holding club and inter-county championships in 2020, provided government advice confirms it is safe to do so.

Despite the government announcement that organised outdoor exercise can return from yesterday (Monday), the G.A.A. is maintaining its June 29 date for the opening of its pitches.

At a virtual press conference, the Association launched a 15-page booklet outlining the road ahead. The key points of this document are:

1) Walkways on G.A.A pitches opened from yesterday (June 8);

2) Club gates will open on June 29;

3) Juvenile and adult club championship games can commence from July 31;

4) Inter-county training to commence on September 14;

5) The inter-county calendar will commence from October 17;

6) A full fixture calendar will be published in August.

No games or small group training will be permitted on G.A.A. facilities at this stage, and all clubroom facilities will remain closed.

Phase three commences from June 29 when all G.A.A. pitches will open.

From this date, grades from Under-12 and below can train in small groups - with no more than ten, including players and coaches, in one area of the pitch for non-contact training under social distancing guidelines.

Players between 15-18 years may begin training too at this point, with not more than ten in a group. Parental or guardian sign-off will be needed for under-age training.

Meanwhile, adults can also begin training in small groups of five, whilst social distancing.

Phase four commences on July 20 when all forms of team and group training are permitted, with the resumption of club competitions for all grades to start on July 31.

Water bottles cannot be shared, and all equipment must be washed and sanitised at the end of every session. Contact tracing will be in place for all players and backroom members.

A Covid supervisor will be appointed by clubs, and duties will include taking temperature levels of team participants upon entry to the grounds.

If the level is over 37.5, the player must return home. At this stage all participants will have to complete a health questionnaire for submission to the club's Covid supervisor.

Anyone on the field will have to sanitise their hands upon entry and exit from grounds, and clubs will be asked to display Covid-19 signage on their premises.

There will be a limit on spectator numbers in line with government directives, and spectators will be separated from players in line with social distancing requirements.

The final phase commences on August 10 when access to G.A.A. buildings will be permitted again - where regular and effective cleaning can be carried out and where indoor social distancing can be maintained.

Contact tracing measures must be in place, and sanitisers will be placed all through the facilities. Signage must be displayed, and crowds will be managed in line with agreed protocols and government guidance.

On September 14, inter-county training will resume, subject to no change in medical advice or research. From October 17 there will be a green light to resume inter-county championship matches.

An official statement from Shay Bannon, Chairman of the advisory group, read:

'The Covid-19 Advisory Group was tasked with preparing a guidance document and recommendations that would inform the safe resumption of activities within the Gaelic Games family.

'While this document provides a guide for a safe return for Gaelic Games activity, it is important to note that further, more detailed advice and guidance will need to be provided in the coming weeks on specific areas contained within this document, such as online training modules, the role of the Covid Supervisor, advice on recording player temperatures, advice on, and samples of signage and so on.

'It is also envisaged that separate and updated advice on the Safe Return for inter-county players will be published during Phase 4 and closer to the resumption time for inter-county activity.

'The roadmap contained in this document outlines and defines a set of recommended minimum practices for the reintroduction of activities in a methodical manner which preserves player and community safety. The guidelines, protocols and recommendations within the document are capable of evolving and staying abreast of changes in Government policy and developments within the Association.

'The priority at all times must be to protect the health and welfare of all those involved in Gaelic Games and to minimise the risk of transmission within the wider community.'

Meanwhile, the attention of G.A.A. clubs in Wexford will now turn to the County Board meeting to be held via videoconference using Microsoft Teams tomorrow (Wednesday) at 8 p.m.

It will discuss the proposed change in structure for the adult county championships from two groups of six to four groups of three across all codes.

With eleven weeks set aside for club activity from July 31 onwards, the suggested new format would take ten weeks - five apiece for hurling and football - to complete without breaks, although one team would have a bye in all three of the group rounds.

One potential sticking point is the proposal that a team be relegated from each championship, as per the norm.

Given the exceptional circumstances, some close observers, including our columnist Tom Dempsey, are suggesting that relegation be set aside for this year to ease the burden on players who may be reluctant to return due to health concerns.

Enniscorthy Guardian