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Club action to resume first as GAA confirms return to play

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*Brian Carey & Rian Considine in action in the 2019 Clare SHC county final. Photograph: BurrenEye Photography

Club games in gaelic football, hurling, camogie and ladies football can resume from Friday July 31st.

Inter-county action will commence no earlier than October 17th following the publication of the GAA’s guidelines on a safe return to play. County sides will be allowed to resume collective training on September 14th. A full fixture schedule will be published by the CCCC when Ireland enters Phase 4 of the roadmap for reopening Ireland.

Training in groups of ten is permitted from June 29th which is also the date when pitches around the county will be allowed to reopen. Health questionnaires which will involve temperature checking will have to be completed by individuals before they travel to training sessions with clubs to appoint numerous COVID-19 supervisors.

The club season is scheduled to run from the last day of July to October 11th. Clubs are only allowed to resume contact training eleven days before the provisional start of the championship.

Clubs are to be educated on COVID-19 before facilities can reopen with appropriate signage to be erected in suitable locations around facilities including pitchside reinforcing social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, avoidance of personal contact and spitting. Sanitiser dispensers are to be put in place at club grounds.

Dressing rooms, gyms and social areas are to remain closed in Phase 3. Clubs have been advised that toilets are to be “regarded as potentially contaminated areas”. Doors and windows are to stay open where appropriate to allow for ventilation. A regular cleaning programme with daily deep disinfection to be followed.

Physios and doctors will have to wear face masks while on the sideline for GAA matches. Only players and essential team personnel are to be authorised onto the pitch. Club grounds will also have to put in place facilities for disinfecting sliotars and footballs, hurleys, helmets and gloves.

A medical isolation room will now be a compulsory piece of infrastructure for the “unlikely event that a player becomes unwell during a training session” so that they there is a facility where they can isolate immediately. Dressing rooms could be used for this purpose as they will not be in use.

Each GAA club will be required to have a number of COVID supervisors. They will have to complete the Gaelic Games online education module. Every GAA team is expected to have an individual with responsibility for COVID-19 supervision whose main duties will include distributing and collating health questionnaires before each session or game, to ensure the sanitising of facilities is completed before and after each session or game, maintaining a record of attendees. Questionnaires are to be handed to the supervisor upon entry to the ground

Access to dressing rooms, clubhouse and shower areas is not allowed until further notice, the GAA has confirmed. The use of toilets will be allowed “on a controlled basis”.

Individuals attending GAA activities are encouraged to walk or cycle to the venue. Members from different households are not allowed travel together in the one car according to the document.

Team meetings have been discouraged by the GAA’s COVID Advisory Group. “Eliminate all non-essential gatherings and put robust control measures in place for essential interaction,” is the recommendation. If team meetings are held, they should be done so outdoors or online. 7

From Phase 3 onwards, teams must train in small groups of ten only with two coaches in a designated area of the field. All players and personnel involved must complete the mandatory Gaelic Games online education module which will be available on the GAA eLearning portal. A certificate of completion is to be obtained by COVID supervisors.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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