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GAA ready for new dawn: Games get back underway but Croke Park chiefs to push for larger crowds

Association expected to call for increase to crowd limits as first competitive games in four months get ready to throw-in

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An aerial view of Gallaras, the home ground of An Ghaeltacht in Murreagh, Kerry. Photo: Sportsfile

An aerial view of Gallaras, the home ground of An Ghaeltacht in Murreagh, Kerry. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

An aerial view of Gallaras, the home ground of An Ghaeltacht in Murreagh, Kerry. Photo: Sportsfile

The first competitive GAA games in over four months take place tonight as clubs prepare to return in front of minuscule crowds.

However, the GAA is expected to make representations to Government on the decision to retain the 200 limit at outdoor events until at least August 10. Phase four of the Government's reopening of society and business, should have seen an increase to a limit of 500 people in attendance at outdoor events from Monday next, but the failure to move on - due to rising numbers of Covid-19 cases - has left clubs and counties in a bind as the competitive season cranks up.

As it stands, the 200 limit incorporates players, management, stewards, media and contractors, leaving - in many cases - fewer than 100 tickets to distribute after that.

One avenue open to the GAA is to see if the 200 limit could be set aside for supporters only, which would give some leeway as players and management are in a controlled environment within the pitch enclosure.

Former Galway and Offaly hurling manager John McIntyre has predicted problems for GAA officials in distributing tickets and feels watching matches in an outdoor setting should be considered low risk.

"We are looking at a situation where barely 40 supporters from each club, outside the team management, players, medics, club officials and stats men, will be accommodated," said McIntyre. "That's a massive challenge for clubs and officials to organise. Who do you pick and who gets first preference? This is going to cause a lot of aggravation and frustration," he said.

Irish Independent