GAA 2020: Behind Closed Doors or Wait Until 2021

As the days past the doubts and concerns for the GAA season of 2020 to be completed. With GAA president John Horan announcing there would be no inter-county action until at least October it seems unlikely we could be seeing our counties in action until next year. This weekend was to be the beginning of the Championship for All-Ireland holders Dublin as they were supposed to travel to Westmeath tomorrow to face them in the Leinster Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final. Instead we are discussing if a ball will be kicked again for the year. 

Hopes were slightly increased when Leo Varadkar announced his 5-Step Road Map in order to slowly open the country back up and to try bringing some normality back to Ireland. Phase 4 it is to permit sports team leagues like soccer and GAA which is scheduled for July 20th. This may provide a boost to the League of Ireland and their hopes on continuing as soon as possible. 

I feel like many other fans that we would only like to see a return in action when it is safe to do so. The players well-being at the highest risk when GAA does return. Referee David Gough expressed his feelings by saying he will not be back until there is a vaccine to tackle this widespread virus. Earlier today Bernard Brogan, former Dublin footballer, took to Twitter to express how much he’d love to be back in his counties colours and explaining how he would not think twice about playing behind closed doors if he were a player today. 

As much as me and all other GAA fans across the country miss the beloved game it is fair to say if it is unsafe to return that it should remain on hold. Many fans I have spoken to agree with the longing out of a return and are in favour of John Horan putting the players welfare first before anything else.

Another topic that has been on GAA’s fans lips is the format it will take up when it eventually returns or if it does at all. At the beginning of lockdown, Westmeath manager Jack Cooney explained how he feels that an open draw should be the format used for the 2020 All-Ireland Football Championship. On April 17th, the GAA held a Special Congress in which rule changes were approved unanimously in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Although it was announced that an open-draw format would be the last option it does mean changes could be made to make this year’s Championship more exciting. Whilst we evaluate all the possible formats that could be taken up it seems very unlikely, we will see the completion of the Allianz Leagues. Before we parted ways, we seen Galway lead Division 1, Mayo on the brink of relegation, Armagh promoted from Division 2, Cork back into Division 2 and Leitrim dropping back into Division 4. In the hurling we saw Limerick top Division 1A, Westmeath drop into 1B, Antrim into 1B and Derry into 2A. 

This year was supposed to be the re-introduction of a second tier in the All-Ireland Football Championship. Counties finishing places in the Allianz Leagues was to affect the Championship for the first time ever. Sides that were relegated from Division 2 and finished in Division 3 (except promoted sides to Division 2), and Division 4 would automatically enter Tier 2 if they did not reach their provincial final. This would condense the Qualifiers from 4 Rounds to 2. Tier 2 was to be a straight knockout competition with 16 teams featuring in Round 1.

With sports across the world being affected until the foreseeable future it is considered that sports is the most important thing out of the least important. I think that a lot of us sports fans would only welcome a return to our beloved sports once it is declared safe to do so. Until then our health is the most important thing and at the moment the only way to keep our health intact is by staying indoors, keeping distance from other people when outdoors and washing our 

hands constantly. We all need to stay safe and the only way we can do that is by remaining indoors whilst keeping our minds healthy by exercising within 5km.

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