All fifteen games scheduled in the Louth GAA Football and Hurling Championships this coming weekend have been moved to Darver, after the government announced today that all matches must now be played behind closed doors.
The fourteen matches in Senior, Intermediate and Junior grades in football and a clash between St Fechins and Knockbridge in the Senior Hurling Championship will all now take place at the Centre of Excellence in Readypenny between Thursday evening and Monday night.
Games had been scheduled at usual Championship venues including Ardee, Castlebellingham, Dunleer, the Gaelic Grounds in Drogheda, Louth Village, Stabannon, Dowdallshill and Clan na Gael in Dundalk and many of these venues are unlikely to see any more Championship football in 2020.
200 people including teams, coaches, physios and officials had been permitted to enter all sporting games from late June to this point but after only two rounds of the league and one in the Championship, spectators will now be restricted to following via social media, radio and occasionally on LuTV.
The move to Darver, with no spectators to facilitate, will save the county board the fees paid to clubs for hosting Championship games. This weekend alone, the county board will save €2,500. However, it is understood the county board plan to stream all games via their LuTV platform – rather than just the five that were streamed live last weekend.
Clubs are set to receive 50 tickets in total, which will allow access to Darver for players, coaches, physios, club officials and PROs.
With social distancing restrictions in place, a decision was taken not to schedule double headers at club venues around the county but now, double headers will return over the next two rounds of fixtures. On both Saturday and Sunday, Darver will host five successive games starting at 12pm and throwing in every two hours up to 8pm.
Meanwhile, the GAA have invited Dr Ronan Glynn and NPHET to present the ’empirical evidence which informed the requirement for the Association to curtail its activities.’
In a statement, Croke Park said, ‘The Association will tonight be issuing an invitation to Dr Glynn to meet with its Covid Advisory Group in this regard without delay. The GAA and its members remain at all times committed to protecting public health.’