GAA suspends all club games with immediate effect ‘following a number of incidents’

Sports clubs across NI have been forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic
Sports clubs across the island of Ireland have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic

The GAA has suspended all club games across the island of Ireland “with immediate effect and until further notice” to protect public safety.

A statement issued by the organisation cited concerns over post-match celebrations and a lack of social distancing at some events as primary contributory factors in the decision.

“A number of incidents have been brought to our attention in recent days,” the statement explained.

All grades and all ages are affected.

The halting of club games across the island means Sunday’s Donegal SFC final between Kilcar and Naomh Conaill at Ballybofey will have to be rescheduled for a third time.

It was initially to be played on 27 September, was then rearranged for 7 October, then rescheduled again for 11 October.

Inter-county GAA matches are scheduled to recommence on 17 October with the resumption of the National League, followed by the start of the delayed Championship on 31 October.

The statement released on Monday explained that the GAA’s Management Committee had endorsed the decision in light of “certain events having proved disappointing and problematic”.

Last month Ulster GAA responded strongly to scenes which followed the Tyrone football final when some supporters invaded the pitch after Dungannon Clarkes defeated Trillick to secure a first county football title in 64 years at Healy Park in Omagh.

On Monday Derry GAA defended its handling of their senior county final after criticism over spectators appearing to breach social distancing guidelines.

The move comes as the Irish Government considers a recommendation from The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) that the entire country be put on a Level Five footing.

Level Five measures include the halting of all sports events.

Clubs will continue to be allowed to hold training sessions as the GAA “continue to monitor the situation in the coming days and weeks, regarding changes in government guidelines, before liaising with our units accordingly.”

“The Association would also like to acknowledge all of those units who have worked diligently in complying with the public health advice around the staging of our games and training sessions since activity resumed,” their statement added.

BBC News