Finally, more than three months on from when the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in this country, the prospect of some semblance of normality returning to our lives seems to be coming into view.
In tandem with the Government’s Phase 2 reopening announcement today the GAA unveiled its plans for a return to action. Full details of the GAA’s proposals, which is a joint plan agreed with the LGFA and the Camogie Association, are here.
A quick perusal of the plan quickly confirms that the return to action isn’t just a case of rocking up and throwing the ball in. All manner of protocols and procedures have to be rolled out in advance and, having done a bit of volunteering with the GAA in my time, I can only shudder at the burden all of this will impose on volunteers as they prepare their clubs and counties to be able to get back out safely onto the field of play.
As was well trailed in advance, it’s club action that’ll resume first, with club competitions getting going on 31st July at both adult and juvenile level. Collective training at inter-county level is set to resume on 14th September, with competitive football and hurling action getting going on 17th October.
The GAA also announced today that it will publish a full revised calendar of inter-county fixtures for the remainder of the year on 29th June. Interestingly, the Association hasn’t yet given up the ghost on concluding this year’s National Leagues and so we’ll have to wait until the end of the month to find what what the story is there.
So, the prospect of once again seeing on-field action – at both club and county levels – is finally back on the table. Significant issues remain to be addressed, in particular what arrangements will be made for spectators, assuming the current physical distancing strictures remain in place. And, of course, the reopening plans are conditional on what happens with the virus, which could yet come roaring back strongly later in the year.
For now, though, it’s good – finally – to be able to think about the future in a positive way and to start looking ahead to that happy day when we get to see some ball kicked again. In that regard, it does – at last – feel like there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.