The GAA has today finally accepted that its 2020 Championship fixture calendar – at both club and inter-county levels – cannot remain in place, due to the ongoing restrictions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. The GAA’s statement issued today is here.
This is the first formal recognition from Croke Park that widespread changes to this year’s fixture list have to happen. Up until now, the only two matches to have been called off were the Galway/New York and London/Roscommon Connacht Championship ties. Indeed, the latter had merely been postponed, with only the Gaelic Park match scrapped altogether.
The GAA is now stating that it’s unlikely there’ll be any start to the inter-county Championships before the beginning of July at the earliest. When live action resumes, the GAA intends there to be club and inter-county Championship fixtures and, for good measure, they’re also holding onto the hope that this year’s remaining League fixtures might still be played off.
It’s not clear, though, why July has been referenced as a likely time for sport to be able to resume this year. First and foremost, it’s hard to see any matches being played until such time as the current strictures on mass gatherings and social distancing are lifted.
Government ministers have said in recent days that, even when the current rules on work and movement are eased, the social distancing measures are likely to have to remain in place for many months more, most likely until a Covid-19 vaccine becomes widely available. That could be well into next year.
I guess July is just being put out there now as a possible date when matches might resume, in the absence of anything more concrete to go on. That makes sense – up to a point – as it sketches out one scenario for what later in the year might look like for club and inter-county Championships.
It’s just one possible outcome, of course, for what still is an evolving situation, the trajectory and timeline for which remains shrouded in uncertainty. Ultimately, as Dr Anthony Fauci so correctly observed a few weeks back, it’s the virus itself that’s deciding on timelines right now. The GAA’s included.