Sporting nation holds its breath ahead of Government announcement

Senior inter-county and underage training look set to get the green light to resume next month when Government announce their updated recovery plan later today.

However, expectations that there could be significant easing of restrictions for sport from next Monday have been dampened by NPHET's grim report to the Government sub-committee that warned of a potential fourth wave that would negatively impact on the health service.

It was anticipated that senior inter-county training and outdoor coaching for under age teams will resume from next week, but that resumption will be limited to non-contact sessions in pods of 15 and under strictest Covid-19 supervision.

It looks increasingly unlikely that there will be any return to games for inter-county teams in April and that could have a knock-on effect for when play might resume and the prospects of the GAA getting to play off their proposed restructured league campaign.

If counties and clubs are to be allowed to resume training next month then it appears an all-island approach will be taken with 12th April anticipated to be the restart date, in line with proposals in Northern Ireland where sports activity is expected to resume on that date.

Inter-county training in the Six Counties is already permitted by the Northern Ireland Executive but is still prohibited by the GAA.

Despite the smaller, and ever-decreasing, window of opportunity to play games, the GAA still plans to play all their competitions, although with 2020 senior finals still to be played in 11 counties, including the SHC, IHC and JHC finals in Meath, the time for club activities looks set to be even smaller than originally suggested.

Of course it's not just the GAA that is effected by the Government's announcement today. It looks as if the return of local soccer is also set to be put on the long finger with adults unlikely to be allowed to return to outdoor group training for up to six to eight weeks.

It is hoped that other outdoor sports such as tennis and golf will see restrictions lifted on a phased basis over the next few weeks.

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