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2020 championship set for October start as GAA reveal return to play road-map

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The GAA hope to have crowds of 42,000 in Croke Park this year. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The GAA hope to have crowds of 42,000 in Croke Park this year. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

The GAA hope to have crowds of 42,000 in Croke Park this year. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The 2020 championship is set for an October start according to the GAA's return to play plan.

The GAA aim to commence its inter-county championships no sooner than Saturday October 17, but club competitions can get up and running from Friday July 31, the association's 'return to activity' plan has confirmed.

But inter-county teams won't be permitted to return to training next week despite the Government's earlier unwinding of Covid-19 emergency restrictions, which allows for elite athletes in 21 sports to convene in groups up to a maximum of 15.

The GAA has outlined the stages the association envisages taking place over the next few months and they are along expected lines, with grounds opening for non-contact training among club groups of up to 10 on June 29, in line with the Government's phase three.

This is three weeks earlier than originally planned.

Phase four will see an escalation with all forms of training permitted from Monday July 20, the Government's phase four.

With an inter-county championship not slated to start until October, the window of opportunity presented for elite athletes will not be taken up and instead county teams will have to wait until September 14 before they can officially commence training.

The format of inter-county competitions will not be revealed until close to phase three, in about three weeks time.
But it looks certain that it will be knock-out, using the existing provincial championship draws and will run through November and into December, if required.

Counties have been asked to design a competition structure to fit around an inter-county window that will give them up to 11 weekends.

Some have already put forward proposals that allow them to play split their competitions either side of that window.

Information about the size of crowds and spectator spacing at club games will be delivered closer to phase four, July 20.

A comprehensive set of guidelines has been set for clubs that will involve no use of changing rooms, all players travelling separately to venues and strict sanitary protocols.

GAA clubhouses will not be in use until the Government's phase five, from August 10 onwards.

The pathway for a return to activity for clubs will see Covid-19 officers appointed for each team with online training to be provided in the coming weeks.

Players will be required to fill out health questionnaires and have temperature checks before they arrive at training sessions and will be urged to sanitise equipment before and after training and not share water bottles.

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