Counties who train collectively before September 14 could be dumped out of the Championship as the GAA have hardened their stance on breaches.
Last Friday, GAA president John Horan said teams would not be sanctioned for contravening the guideline. However, county board officials were this morning informed that any county side found to have done so could be disqualified from the competition.
As Horan said last week, Croke Park are encouraging both clubs and counties to come forward with information on counties who have been coming together to prepare for the return of inter-county action in October. However, the GAA are now determined to impose strict punishment for such behaviour and intend policing the matter.
It is believed that county chairmen will have 48 hours to respond to a charge of training before September 14. The GAA’s insurance scheme will not cover players who are part of inter-county training prior to that date.
The U-turn is a dramatic one but anecdotal evidence of counties training on property not owned by the GAA is believed to have convinced top officials to act.
Last week, GAA director general Tom Ryan suggested they could look at sanctions at a later date. “It hasn't been a summer for penalties and for sanctions and I'm not really sure that's the right realm for this thing either. We have to do an awful lot of things right in order for us to get to that stage (of staging inter-county games) and part of that is abiding by the timelines and principles that we've set out.
“We'll be asking people to abide by those because they're the right thing to do. If there's a second stage required in terms of sanctions and penalties and so on, yeah of course we'll look at that.”