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2020 championships could be pushed to 2021

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GAA president John Horan. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

GAA president John Horan. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

GAA president John Horan. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

GAA president John Horan has raised the possibility of the 2020 GAA championships being pushed into 2021 if there is no return to play in time to complete them by the end of this year.

Horan made his comments on this morning's 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' as he admitted he was "quite shocked" at stories over the weekend suggesting the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport had been preparing plans to test all inter-county players on a regular basis to allow for championships to go ahead.

Horan described such actions as "irresponsible" and said the Association had no discussions about such testing being introduced. He reaffirmed that the priority now, if health authorities declare that contact sport is safe to engage in again, would be club activity.

He said the weekend stories had caused "nervousness" among GAA membership because they implied that inter-county players were being put ahead of club players at this time.

"We are regularly in contact with Government departments and at no stage have we discussed a return to training. I am aghast at to where this story is coming from. We're going to act totally responsibly," said Horan.

"The playing of games is a contact sport and when social distancing of two metres is a priority at the moment, I can't see contact sport coming on board in the short term.

"The other thing is, we are an amateur sport and I know there is a lot of speculation that professional sports like rugby and soccer may come back in Ireland or overseas but that is probably in the sense that they will cocoon their players," he said.

"But our amateur athletes, they go back to their families, they go back to their workplace and we can't put any of those people they come in contact with at risk by just the sake of playing games.

"We won't be making any rushed decision on this, we have always taken guidance from the health authorities and we will continue to do that. Until they declare that contact sport is safe we won't be playing games and if and when we do return, the club scene will be our priority, where 98 per cent of our activity is. Club level includes all our inter-county players so we are looking at it at the moment."

Horan said the GAA would be open to partially or fully completing the 2020 championships in 2021, if the timelines didn't allow for anything else.

"It's a possibility. We would just adjust the 2021 season. I think there is a hunger out there both among spectators and players to see games being played. People would accept that if we were to make such a decision that it is for the benefit of everyone involved.

"The inter-county game is very important to us but we have to try to strike a correct balance and obviously if we do get back to 2020 it will be shortened seasons for both club and county activity.

"There will be a timeline of return, it's not as if someone is going to hit a switch."