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Green light is given to leagues

Counties unable to field will have to forfeit points as GAA press on

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Dublin’s Colm Basquel in action against Donegal’s Michael Murphy during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 4 match at Croke Park last February

Dublin’s Colm Basquel in action against Donegal’s Michael Murphy during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 4 match at Croke Park last February

SPORTSFILE

Dublin’s Colm Basquel in action against Donegal’s Michael Murphy during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 4 match at Croke Park last February

The GAA is to press ahead as scheduled with the conclusion of the Allianz Football League which gets underway in just eight days' time.

There had been speculation that a GAA chairpersons' meeting held last night would opt to pull the league as a measure to protect the championship, but there is no intention from the Association's Management Committee or the Central Competitions Controls Committee not to complete the competition at this stage, despite rising coronavirus case numbers and the impact that is having on some squads, particularly in Ulster.

Fermanagh have made the case for their game with Clare on Sunday week to be deferred because of a number of Covid positive cases in their squad, forcing them to quarantine until the day before the game. This would leave any proper preparation for such an important game almost impossible.

Fermanagh manager Ryan McMenamin (left) has said a league completed without his side would erode the competition's integrity. But any county that is not in a position to play league games will have to forfeit, similar to the approach being taken for championship games where time is also at a premium.

There is no immediate threat to minor and U-20 inter-county games though challenge games for these grades have been suspended. Third level activity has also been shelved.

The focus of the chairpersons' meeting was to update them on the current suspension of club activity for the next two weeks at least because of growing concern and reputational damage to the Association over weakening compliance to guidelines and how that might be pieced together, even as the country remains at level three.

Under level three, senior club games can go ahead, but the completion of county finals will take priority with 11 finals still outstanding.

One of the measures Management wants to introduce is the withholding of cups after county finals. Officials feel that while this may not prevent celebrations it may limit parades and congregations which have a cup as a focal point.

The GAA has indicated that the club suspension will be reviewed in two weeks but the prospect of competitions continuing seems remote.

Carlow GAA has decided to postpone its senior football championship until 2021. The senior football semi-finals will be played on Sunday January 10, with the final a week later, provided restrictions allow for it.

The intermediate football final between Ballinabranna and Kildavin-Clonegal will be played three weeks after inter-county activity has finished for players involved from both clubs with the junior final, between St Patrick's and Tinryland, following the same criteria.

Earlier, McMenamin had asked the GAA to postpone their Allianz FL Division 2 clash with Clare on Sunday week "to help ease the minds" of his players.

"I think it needs to be a postponement. If they want to go on ahead more or less in the League without us, that will be the integrity of the League gone," McMenamin told OTB AM.

"To me, I think the GAA has got to act quickly and postpone it. We can draw a line under it then and tell the boys how we plan going forward."

"They didn't contract (the virus) intentionally. I've already got a few messages on WhatsApp from lads who are worrying that this was all because of them. So, you do have to think of their mental health when all of this stuff is being paraded around the country."

He added: "We're in no shape to play Clare. I've just been told the hotel in Clare cancelled our reservation because of Level 3 restrictions, I thought that was weird. We're in no shape to play ... even long-term if you look at the Ulster Championship.

"We do want to play it but you're looking at the level of preparation. If you're only going to have two or three training sessions before the Ulster Championship you kind of have to ask, what sort of games are they going to be? What sort of spectacle?

"Maybe I'm thinking wrong - if this was maybe Dublin or Tyrone and they were in the same situation, would the Ulster Championship match be moved or would it be accommodated for players?," added the All Star defender.

"You don't know until any of them counties are in that situation.