There is growing optimism the Allianz Leagues could be started in April on the back of the Government’s revised Living With Covid plan to be released today.
As senior inter-county GAA looks set to receive a renewal of its Level 5 exemption, it could pave the way for the GAA’s Covid advisory committee to allow collective training in the latter half of next month.
Croke Park have already made it clear they will allow for four weeks of training prior to the start of the leagues. In the event the Covid advisory body give the go ahead, protocols for training and travel are likely to be tightened given the variants of the virus.
GAA president John Horan has said county will go first as planned. It is anticipated the Allianz Leagues and Championship would be completed in five months and hoped club league and then championship games can be run concurrently with the inter-county championship during the summer.
Louth chairman and Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick has reiterated his belief the Allianz Leagues will commence later next month or early April. Speaking last Sunday week, the former Wee County senior football manager said he was confident of a start date around that time following a conversation with Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers.
“We’re hoping to get the leagues back at the end of March or beginning of April,” he told the.
“I have no more updates since then. It’s just I was talking to the minister last Friday week and he was hoping the elite sports including the GAA would be back up and running by the end of March, start of April.”
Fitzpatrick supports the GAA’s original plan to start the 2021 calendar with inter-county fixtures.
“Inter-county has to start first. To be fair to club football, it will need more of a run-in to championship games. If the GAA has any common- sense, it will be play the league week after week and get the All-Ireland finished in mid July or early August. I think it’s very realistic.
“We have to be careful. The most important thing is the health and wellbeing of people, but in fairness the Government and Nphet (National Public Health Emergency Team) are working together to ensure that. But I would still be confident that we will have football in the not too long distant future.”
Fitzpatrick says there isn’t a day that passes when he’s receiving calls from under-age managers about the need to allow children back to the pitches.
“It’s just for their mental health that we need to get sport back up and running.
“You’ve 20 times less of a chance of catching anything outdoors. We have to get people outside. There’s too much congregation inside. You have to make sure it is well organised and it doesn’t matter what sport it is but the young people do need to get out there.”
As part of the British government’s roadmap to easing Covid restrictions, up to 10,000 spectators may be permitted into some stadiums for the final round of Premier League fixtures in the middle of May.