The GAA’s Covid Advisory group has cleared the way for club activity to resume in Northern Ireland from April 12.
Following last week’s decision by the Stormont executive to permit non-contact training for groups of 15 for outdoor sports, the Covid Advisory group has given the green light for adult and underage club team to start back training.
It will, in all probability, create a divergence between clubs north and south of the border as it’s not expected that the same liberty will be afforded to adult club teams in the Republic until May.
There had been some calls to retain a 32-county approach but the Covid Advisory Group feels it is right to allow activity now that the opportunity for some has arisen.
The Irish government is due to outline some of their plans to relax restrictions on Tuesday of next week and the hope is that inter-county and underage teams will get clearance to return, despite the rise in Covid cases in the south over the last week.
Inter-county teams in Northern Ireland have clearance to train from the authorities at present but not the GAA.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin suggested in an interview that the focus would be outdoors for any restrictions lifted, pointing to a potential policy change for sport in the Republic.
If inter-county does get the go-ahead from April 5 or April 12, the most probable scenario is for the leagues to be played over four to five weekends from early May until early-to-mid June, being followed by a knockout championship in football and championship with qualifiers in hurling, like 2020, concluding in early-to-mid August.
The news for the 180 Ulster club and county units came on a day when they were notified that they would be in receipt of almost £6m in grants from the Sport NI Sports Sustainability fund to help offset some of the financial impact of the pandemic.