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"We don't want to kill off competitions" | GAA hopeful of staging National Leagues

Gaelic Games players at all levels will have to deal with a lack of activity, including training, until Easter at the earliest under Government restrictions.

The Association's fixture calendar is now up the air after it was revealed Gaelic Games are no longer covered under Level 5 exemptions for elite level sports during the pandemic.

GAA Director of Communications Alan Milton told Newstalk Breakfast that high profile breaches of guidelines, such as the Cork footballers gathering in Youghal, did not have any bearing on the Government's decision.

"Absolutely none, it was never mentioned. They have been very few and far between. I think they need context and even last year, I was quoted regularly as saying we had over 20,000 games and we'd a handful of county finals that were challenging. I think we would have heard about it before now if they were an issue."

Under the GAA's Master Fixture plan for 2021, it was intended for the inter-county and club calendar to be split. The goal was to run the inter-county competitions including the All-Ireland championships until July and then dedicate the rest of the year to the club scene.

That plan will now have to be reimagined, but Milton is hopeful the National Leagues won't be a casualty of the prevailing environment.

"For obvious reasons, we're a games organisation. We don't want to kill off competitions unless we have to. It's an important competition and it would also have a potential bearing on the Taileteann Cup if it was to go ahead, which is the second tier football competition. We certainly hope we don't have to go there."

Milton says the absence of games will be frustrating for many.

"The big disappointment for anybody who is involved with club is the uncertainty for the masses. It's not just the intercounty game, but there will be nothing happening until early April. That's a big disappointment, especially for young people and children who currently don't have access to school."

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