Last night, the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, Camogie Association and GAA confirmed that inter-county training and competition lost its elite status as per the COVID restrictions.
Government representatives met with the Gaelic Games governing bodies and clarified that inter-county activity is not covered under the current Level 5 exemptions for elite sports. As such a return to intercounty training or games is not permitted under the current restrictions. It was understood that inter-county training was unlikely to resume until after Easter.
However, speaking in an interview on Morning Ireland this morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has provided optimism that inter-county GAA activity could resume before the beginning of April.
“In the context of the revising of the (Living with Covid) plan, we will look at sport and look at inter-county GAA,” Martin said of the plan due to be released in two weeks time.
“I thought it worked well last year, the inter-county GAA situation, but it was always timed to end at the end of the year and so we will look at it afresh.
“We think inter-county sport made a difference both in soccer (League of Ireland) and in GAA in terms of the mental health of people and in terms of quality of life.”
Asked if the suspension of inter-county GAA is determined by Covid cases, which are incidentally lower now than when games took place in October, Martin said: “We want to keep activity levels low in society more generally in terms of mobility and the potential for the spread of the disease.
“Close contact testing has come back in the last week and the positive rate among close contacts is at 22%. Prior to this wave, it was around 10 or 11% so that gives an illustration of this variant and its impact.
“Hospitalisation, even though the numbers of people in hospital is coming down, is still over 20% of the peak last April, so we have to keep these figures in context as well slowly move out of the very stringent restrictions that we currently have in place.”