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Threat of disqualification as GAA harden stance on inter-county training ban

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Inter-county teams can return training in September

Inter-county teams can return training in September

SPORTSFILE

Inter-county teams can return training in September

The GAA is to reverse its position on sanctioning teams who violate the prohibition on inter-county training before September 14 by potentially disqualifying them from competition.

In a sharp escalation since last Friday, when the national fixtures plan was released for the remainder of 2020 and leading officials indicated they weren't in favour of sanctions, a conference call of county officials heard this morning that such an approach was now being hardened considerably with possible ejection from competitions if counties are found to be training prior to September 14.

Some counties have continued to train this week but GAA officials are now inviting clubs to let them know if their players are being prevented from turning out for training or challenge matches with them with a promise to follow it up with the toughest possible measures. Other counties are also being encouraged to come forward with information if it is felt that there is a violation.

County chairmen will have 48 hours to respond to any charge that they had been training outside the permitted window.

It is understood there had been an admission at the meeting from some counties that their teams had been training in recent weeks.

Ony last Friday GAA president John Horan said the intention was not to sanction but "calling out" such teams would be welcomed while Director-General Tom Ryan also backed a benign approach.

"We haven't really looked at it in detail yet," Ryan said at the season relaunch. "Today is about the fixtures programme, the calendar and what that might look like. The next step is looking at what safeguards are put around that," he stated.

"I think myself over the last three or four months and the reason we're at the stage we're at is because the country as a whole and the Association has shown a great degree of restraint and personal responsibility and that's the thing we'd like to rely on first and foremost before we get into…it hasn't been a summer for penalties and sanctions. I'm not really sure that's the right realm for this thing either."

But within hours of those words being spoken, the Club Players Association had updated their members on the submission of a letter to Ryan calling for teams who break the training ban to be disqualified from competition with the relevant team managers suspended.

The GAA plan to pursue any violation under Rule 7.2(e) which deals with misconduct deemed to have discredited the Association. That covers disqualification, fines and league points deductions for teams who have met the criteria for such a charge.

On the call, GAA officials also re-iterated that the Injury Benefit Scheme would not be restored ahead of September 14 for county teams and thus, inter-county training could not resume for players whose involvement in club activity is at an end.

The Gaelic Players Association has called for the injury benefit scheme to be restored to allow players with no further club activity to return to an inter-county set up ahead of September 14 but at the same time, in a note to county chairs, said that date was "clear and unambiguous" that training should not recommence before then.

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