Rescue bid

GAA calls Special Congress to make championship call

The GAA will hold a Special Congress tomorrow night

Colm Keys

The GAA has taken the first steps towards reshaping the championships by calling a Special Congress to derogate decision-making authority to its Management Committee and Central Council.

Central Council has convened by teleconference to approve a Special Congress by the same medium for next Friday that will discuss a motion supporting a rule allowing such derogation in "special emergency circumstances."

Once that approval is given, the GAA's Management Committee, in consultation with Central Council, will then be able to put forward a new championship structure when the public health picture becomes clearer.

For now, no decisions can be made regarding a structure or a timeframe but it is widely accepted that there will be no provincial round robin hurling games or All-Ireland football Super 8 fixtures in 2020.

Holding a Special Congress in this manner to cede powers to a smaller body is necessary because championship formats are bound by rule.

Some inter-county managers have been calling on the GAA to provide some certainty around when the season might resume but until the public health picture becomes clearer around the pandemic,. there is reluctance to make plans that may have to be changed.

There is, however, growing momentum behind putting clubs back into action first, once restrictions start to lift, recognising the social capital of bringing communities back together.

Smaller gatherings are likely to be given approval first in a phased return and that would align with club programmes getting up and running, followed by inter-county championships which could take place much later in the year, even into October, November and December.

Segregation measures, in line with social distancing policy, could well be implemented at a smaller number of club venues.

The obvious risk of contact between players is the most crucial element to any decision to restart games.

At this stage, the GAA still sees scope for qualifiers taking place in hurling and football, if the situation allows for that.