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GAA await word on early North return

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A general view during a Moorefield Senior Football Squad training session at Moorefield GAA club in Newbridge, Kildare. Following approval from the GAA and the Irish Government, the GAA released its safe return to play protocols, allowing pitches to be opened for non contact training on 24 June and for training and challenge games to resume from 29 June. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

A general view during a Moorefield Senior Football Squad training session at Moorefield GAA club in Newbridge, Kildare. Following approval from the GAA and the Irish Government, the GAA released its safe return to play protocols, allowing pitches to be opened for non contact training on 24 June and for training and challenge games to resume from 29 June. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

A general view during a Moorefield Senior Football Squad training session at Moorefield GAA club in Newbridge, Kildare. Following approval from the GAA and the Irish Government, the GAA released its safe return to play protocols, allowing pitches to be opened for non contact training on 24 June and for training and challenge games to resume from 29 June. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The GAA could find out today whether ‘return to play’ dates in sport will be aligned on either side of the border after the Association’s acceleration down south was announced over the weekend.

The GAA brought forward the re-opening of clubs to adult teams to last night with underage teams officially back out on Saturday. Contact training can resume from next Monday, three weeks ahead of the original July 20 date.

The GAA has given the green light for competitive games to commence from July 17 but that is currently at odds with the timeline in Northern Ireland where July 31 has been identified as the date for recommencement for contact sports action.

Sports teams are currently allowed to train in groups of 15 down south but just 10 in the six counties where contact training can’t resume until July 20.

Ulster GAA could be briefed as early as today about any possible change but full alignment may not be in the pipeline as a degree of caution still exists.

The hope is that if there is a compromise, Northern Ireland will track the south by just a week in any new timeline. A meeting with officials of the Northern Ireland executive is understood to have taken place this week and clarification is now expected.

GAA president John Horan had indicated in May that counties in the North would not be left behind if there was an imbalance in the time-frames between the two jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, the GAA is expected to unveil its national fixtures plan for the remainder of 2020 with the remaining two rounds of the league going ahead on October 17/18 and October 24/25 followed by championships being concluded prior to Christmas. The All-Ireland U-20 semi-finals are to be played in November.