Q&A: All you need to know about returning to club GAA action

The GAA have proposed club competitions be permitted to return from July 31 for an 11-week window as part of their safe return to action roadmap - John Fogarty answers the key questions.
Q&A: All you need to know about returning to club GAA action

The GAA have proposed club competitions be permitted to return from July 31 for an 11-week window as part of their safe return to action roadmap - John Fogarty answers the key questions.

So when can I or members of my family go to our club pitch again?

If you club has a designated walking track you and three others are living 20km of it you can use it from Monday providing the club has received clearance from the GAA. The pitch is off bounds until June 28.

What happens then?

Non-contact training can take place on the playing surface but there will be restrictions. Groups of no more than 10 people can train together in a desginated area of the field with a maximum of two coaches.

If the social distancing restriction of two metres is still in place at that stage it must be upheld. There can be no transfer of equipment within another group and it must be sanitised after training. Access to club grounds is restricted to players, managers and designated officials only.

Do we have to do anything before that?

Yes. Players and parents of under-age players must complete a module to ensure they have been briefed on risks related to coronavirus. Questionnaires will have to be completed per visit to the club grounds and temperature checks conducted to gain access. Should the questionnaire raise an issue or a person’s temperature read over 37.5 degrees celsius, they must return home.

Who checks that?

A Covid-19 supervisor appointed by the club. It is expected there will be several for each club with one per team where possible. They will also have to record attendance of players and management/coaches for contact tracing purposes as well as collecting the questionnaires and sanitising the facilities and equipment.

What about the clubhouse and buildings?

Until August 10, dressing rooms are off limits. No team meetings can take place indoors until August 10.

Water bottles cannot be shared at any time and the likes of gestures such as handshakes and other close interactions are not permitted. Toilets will be available but they will have to be sanitised.

So what do players have to do until then?

Arrive togged out and ready to train or play.

When will contact training begin?

July 20. That date could yet be brought forward but so long as social restrictions are in place it is a hurdle. Players and management will have to sanitise their hands before entering the club grounds.

Won’t there be a demand for pitch-time?

Undoubtedly. Hence the need for timetables, which the GAA have outlined in their roadmap: “Timesheets should be used to clearly show what teams are using club facilities at what times. The principle of ‘get in, train, and get out’ will apply. There should be a time interval between teams departing having completed training and the next team arriving. Attendance will be limited to essential personnel. Compliance will be necessary to ensure efficiency and harmony.”

How long then until club competitions recommence?

From July 31, club competitions will be given the green light. There will be an exclusive period of 11 weeks until October 11 for clubs to organise games. Counties are expected to begin confirming their restructured championships in the coming weeks.

Will the club championships have behind closed door matches?

Not necessarily. The GAA will reveal limitations on spectator numbers in line with Government guidelines prior to the start of phase four on July 20 but it’s already planned for a separation between players and spectators.

Is there an overlap between the club and county windows?

Yes. From September 14, county teams can train collectively although it will be difficult to police that. So as club competitions are coming to the business end, inter-county managers will be permitted to convene training sessions.

Isn’t it a bit tight that some county finals could take place on October 11 and the possibility of provincial inter-county championships the following weekend?

Well, time is of the essence and compromises have to be made across the board. But it does beg the question just how inter-county managers will be happy their star players being involved in major club matches days before a likely knock-out Championship fixture.

The 13-day rule between club and county championship seems to be up in smoke anyway?

This year anyway. It goes without saying that the GAA’s Official Guide is a loose guidebook in 2020.

And what of the Cúl Camps?

The GAA’s Covid-19 advisory committee propose children’s involvement be limited to one camp and groups be made smaller with the same trainer/supervisor and equipment assigned to each group. Parents and guardians must drop off and collect their child or children at the club for camps or training.

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