GAA alter stance on coronavirus testing and forfeits

Rapid Covid approach for Championship being developed and some room for postponements
GAA alter stance on coronavirus testing and forfeits

Feargal McGill, GAA director of club, player and games administration

The GAA have changed their mind on testing and standing down teams in this year’s Championship.

A limited rapid testing approach is being developed by the organisation in the event there is a positive coronavirus test in a squad in the days leading up to a game. The recommendation from the GAA’s Covid advisory group is aimed at ensuring the health of team-mates and possibly games being able to go ahead in spite of some players having to stand down.

In June, GAA director of club, player and games administration Feargal McGill said testing was “not a route we’ll be going down”. While he does not believe the rapid testing will be required across the board, it will be put in place.

“We're currently examining what I would call a very limited rapid testing approach, which will be only used in the three or four days leading up to a game if there was a positive test in a squad.

“Now, it would be hugely different to what is in professional sports but it might be something that helps us to ensure both the health of the players and that the game can go ahead. It's currently at tender stage so I can't really comment much more but I would emphasise again it would be a very limited approach.”

McGill said the GAA don’t envisage teams having to forfeit games unless their counties enter level five of the national Covid-19 plan. “You know, a positive Covid test at the moment, in some ways we're treating 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.”

Last month, GAA president John Horan said a team will have to step aside if their county goes into lockdown as there is no wiggle room in the Championship structure for rescheduling games.

However, McGill confirmed postponements will be permitted in the event that there is a spare weekend between a team’s two matches and there is a possibility the 2020 championship could even be played into 2021.

“The calendar doesn't really allow much time for postponements. One of the regulations that will be going into our competitions is that really we'll only be able to grant postponements where there's a 13-day window between the round where the team is looking for the postponement and the next round of the competition. But there's very few instances where that's allowed. One exception to that would be All-Ireland semi-finals and finals.”

Although Dublin is currently at level three, Croke Park would be able to host games up to level four and McGill can’t see the business end of the All-Ireland championships being played away from GAA HQ.

“I wouldn’t rule anything in or out, but having said that, that would be an absolute last resort. I suppose playing in an All-Ireland semi-final, or winning your provincial championship or whatever, one of the rewards of it is you get to play in Croke Park.”

As was previously reported in the Irish Examiner, McGill indicated that the 2021 Allianz Leagues are unlikely to commence in late January as per usual and is set to be reformatted to fit a shorter timeframe, possibly regionalised.

Meanwhile, the final round of the Allianz Football League will be 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 football final will also 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).

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up