John Horan ‘confident’ all competitions will be played in 2021

Outgoing GAA president John Horan is ‘confident’ that the organisation will be able to complete a full-fixture list should they get the green light to go ahead in May.

Horan will step aside as president at Saturday’s Annual Congress and will be succeeded by Larry McCarthy aired his confidence that a full season will be fulfilled across inter-county and club on Today with Claire Byrne.

“I’d be hopeful come 5 April that if we get the inter-county back we’ll also get the juvenile back, and that schools will be in full operation by that time.”

“We’re confident we can get a full games programme into that time frame.

“Last year we got through a full club programme, we completed the leagues and we got the inter-county championships played. I’d be confident we will get a games programme in place and we will actually get all the activities completed.”

13 December 2020; Limerick captain Declan Hannon lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup as Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael John Horan looks on following the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Limerick and Waterford at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

That initial fixture list will have to be looked at after the return of games was indefinitely suspended in early January.

And Horan says there is a possibility that the intercounty season runs directly into the club season with little wriggle room for the GAA in terms of time.

“They are the permutations we’re going to have to look at. What will influence them is how we move down through the levels.

“Obviously the first level that will come back for us will be inter-county. It’s then about how long will it be before the actual club gets back into full flow. There is flexibility… there is movement within the actual arrangement.

“But people can be confident and be positive that the GAA will be back and we will get through all our programme.

“I think everyone realised last year how important the club activity was for us. We made the decision to bring the clubs back first before the inter-county. That gave the clubs the opportunity during the good weather in the summer to be out on the pitches. If you were to push the club campaign too late in the year you’d possibly have difficulty with pitches and floodlighting and that. Club is key to it all.

“That’s one positive message I want to get out there to everybody: the GAA will function and it will function fully if we can get going with our inter-county games on 5 May.”

GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final, Croke Park, Dublin 29/7/2018 Cork vs Limerick The Limerick team Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

And with Boris Johnson announcing the return of fans to grounds in Britain for later in the year, Horan says the GAA are prepared for a similar position.

“Britain are somewhat ahead of us in terms of the virus and the vaccine because of the benefits they’ve had from their vaccination rollout, but I think towards the later end of the year in our bigger stadia we will see some crowds returning.

“They won’t be packing Croke Park with 82,000 but we have done it already in terms of working out numbers n terms of social distancing – one metre and two metres – and how many spectators we can get into Croke Park.

“We’d be capable of doing that for our other big stadia. What will probably happen is the bigger games would be played in the bigger stadia so we can facilitate bringing back spectators.”

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