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GAA warns against any early return to training

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GAA spokesperson Alan Milton explained yesterday that it was "a fluid situation". Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

GAA spokesperson Alan Milton explained yesterday that it was "a fluid situation". Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

GAA spokesperson Alan Milton explained yesterday that it was "a fluid situation". Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

A high-ranking GAA source has warned clubs and counties that the recent relaxation of Covid-19 social restrictions did not amount to a licence to return to any form of collective training.

"They are not insured," he told the Sunday Independent. "I have heard of one or two clubs who are supposed to have crossed the line but we have no confirmation. People might see one or two people on a pitch and say they are back training."

There was a claim that one prominent hurling county had plans to return to a form of collective training tomorrow, in small groups, in anticipation of a possible championship start in October. This claim was denied by the county secretary yesterday. The county secretary told the Sunday Independent it was the first he'd heard of it.

On Monday last there was a slight relaxation of Covid-19 social restrictions to allow groups of up to four from different households to meet outdoors.

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The GAA, however, has closed all club facilities until July 20 and suspended the players' injury benefits scheme.

"But even aside from insurance, the relaxation didn't allow for any form of training anyway," the GAA source said. "And there's the question of using footballs or using sliotars which can increase infection risk."

On March 12 the GAA suspended its Player Injury Scheme but continues to have cover in place for club facilities and those engaged in other activity such as maintenance.

GAA spokesperson Alan Milton explained yesterday that it was "a fluid situation given we don't know at this point how long our season is going to be and how many games it will involve. We will continue to work with our units directly on this."

The GAA has stressed that no GAA injury cover was available for injuries incurred during online training or during individual training programmes that have become a popular substitute in the absence of regular collective training.

Nor was the GAA able to say at this stage whether rebates might be offered to subscribers or an extension of the current 2020 scheme beyond December 31 as compensation.

A key contributor to the injury fund along with club contributions are Central Council and Provincial Council gate receipts - approximately €2.6m in 2019. The losses from that source this year restricts the scope to offer rebates at this time, the GAA indicated.

It said that the expected reduction in claims due to the absence of activity create the possibility of a reduced contribution charge in 2021 or an extended cover period.

Many clubs around the country had not paid the full amounts owed to Croke Park for insurance before the shutdown. But the GAA has said it is "essential" that all outstanding property and liability insurance premiums are paid up by clubs, even though they are currently inactive. A new three-month payment plan for May, June and July is being initiated by each county board to allow "a balanced and fair collection" of the monies due.

There have been reports this weekend that the Association may relax its blanket shutdown of all its facilities across the country by allowing access to walking tracks where possible next month.

Sunday Indo Sport