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gaa setback All-Ireland finals set to be pushed back to August as Covid uncertainty lingers

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John Small and his brother Paddy Small celebrate after winning the All-Ireland final against Mayo. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

John Small and his brother Paddy Small celebrate after winning the All-Ireland final against Mayo. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

John Small and his brother Paddy Small celebrate after winning the All-Ireland final against Mayo. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

THE All-Ireland finals are set to be moved back into August, as uncertainty about the start date for this year's inter-county programme lingers.

The All-Ireland club semi-finals are now also likely to be pushed back into the first weeks of 2022.

As it stands, the upcoming National Leagues won’t begin until March at the very earliest, with the likely knock-on effect of this year’s All-Ireland finals being moved into August.

In that scenario, the GAA can still play off their inter-county season without having to alter the formats of their competitions.

There will, however, be an inevitable delay to the club championships.

"There's no decision made on a return date yet," Alan Milton, the GAA's Head of Communications told the Irish Independent. "However, it's hard to see how the league can start as planned given the training the players have missed up to this point.

"We'll follow public health advice and our advisory committee."

This year’s All-Ireland finals had been due to be played on July 11th (hurling) and the weekend of July 17th/18th (football) but August is now the likeliest home for the GAA season’s two biggest matches.

The All-Ireland club semi-finals, traditionally played in February, were due to be staged in December this year, with the finals in January 2022.

The GAA’s Covid committee is scheduled to meet next Monday when they will consider a return date for inter-county activity, although they may convene earlier depending on any significant announcement from cabinet tomorrow.

Although inter-county football and hurling is permitted under Level 5 restrictions, the GAA took the decision themselves to ban all activity until case numbers come down.

Milton indicated that there was no ‘magic number’ that would prompt the GAA to begin their season and that the GAA would be led by health advice.

They are also now fully anticipating a second full inter-county championship played behind closed doors.

Ministers met today to discuss a range of new Covid restrictions.

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