GAA developing rapid coronavirus testing approach as inter-county schedule confirmed

'We are developing what I would call a very limited rapid testing approach, which will only be used in the three or four days leading up to a game'
GAA developing rapid coronavirus testing approach as inter-county schedule confirmed

Although the venues for the All-Ireland stages aren’t confirmed for GAA HQ, it is unlikely they will be played elsewhere

The GAA are developing a limited rapid testing approach in the event of a suspected Covid case in a squad in the immediate days prior to a Championship games.

Director of club, player and games administration Feargal McGill has explained the measure being looked at is not as sophisticated as that which is seen in professional sports.

Speaking to the media in a conference call this afternoon, he said: “We are developing what I would call a very limited rapid testing approach, which will only be used in the three or four days leading up to a game if there was a positive test in the squad.

“It will be hugely different to what is in professional sports, but it might be something that help us to ensure both the health of the players and the game can go ahead. It is only at tender stage at the minute so I can’t really comment much more on it but I emphasise it would be a very limited approach.”

McGill said the GAA don’t envisage teams having to forfeit a game unless their county is in level five of the national Covid plan. “You will have instances when there will be two, three or four players because they are Covid positive or considered close contacts.”

Highlighting that some club games that didn’t go ahead could have taken place as scheduled in spite of Covid cases, McGill continued:

A positive Covid test at the minute in some ways we are treating it like a hamstring injury. I don’t want to be flippant about it but it means you’re not available for selection, that’s the point I’m making.

Postponements will only be allowed when there is a gap of at least 13 days between stages. McGill said: “The calendar doesn’t really allow much time for postponements so one of the regulations that will be going into our regulations is we really will be only able to grant postponements where there is a 13-day window between the round and the next round. But there is very instances where that can be allowed. One exception to that is All-Ireland semi-finals and finals.”

Only Dublin going into level five lockdown will prevent the business end of the All-Ireland championships in Croke Park. Although the venues for the All-Ireland stages aren’t confirmed for GAA HQ as part of the Central Competitions Control Committee’s latest update on the Championship, McGill stated it is unlikely finals and semi-finals will be played elsewhere.

Thirteen Championship fixtures are set to be shown on television and online over the Halloween weekend as well as the following weekend.

Apart from the four provincial hurling semi-finals, there are nine first round or quarter-final matches across the four provinces on October 31 and a November 1, including Donegal and Tyrone in Ulster and the two quarter-final affairs in Munster.

With exception of the football final to help make Bloody Sunday in Croke Park, none of the Leinster senior football and hurling championship venues have been confirmed. The Galway-Wexford SHC semi-final has been given a 6.15pm throw-in time on Saturday, October 31. As the Irish Examiner previously reported, there is hope to stage several matches in Croke Park.

The final round of the Allianz Football League will been split over two days, the seven fixtures across Division 2 and 4 taking place on Saturday, October 24 now that London have been excluded, and the Division 1 and 3 matches a day later. The only exception is Kerry v Donegal, which takes place on Saturday in Austin Stack Park at 2pm. The U20 All-Ireland final is also to take place that afternoon at 4pm.

Dublin’s Round 6 game against Meath, which had been due to take place in Croke Park back in March, now goes ahead on Saturday, October 17 in Parnell Park (7pm).

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