Updated Mar 30th 2021, 6:31 PM

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SENIOR COUNTY GAA teams will be allowed to return to collective training from 19 April, while golf courses and tennis courts will open again a week later on 26 April.

That latter date will also be when non-contact underage sport training in outdoor settings can again take place after the Government this evening announced the phased easing of public health restrictions during the month of April.

The green light for GAA inter-county collective training had been expected since earlier today to be from 19 April but it has been confirmed this evening that it is for senior teams only and does not include U20 or minor squads.

The resumption of GAA inter-county training will occur a week after club training at underage and adult level is allowed to take place again in Northern Ireland.

🔸 From 19 April: High performance sports including inter-county GAA training returns.

🔸 From 26 April: Tennis outdoors and golf can resume, as well non-contact training for under 18s.

— TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) March 30, 2021

In a statement this evening, the GAA described the news ‘as hugely welcome’, while again stressing the importance of ‘no collective training sessions’ before the indicated return dates.

After this announcement, the GAA hope ‘to be in a position to confirm the fixture calendar and competition structures for inter county by the end of next week’.

The new date for training resumption would potentially put the weekend of 15-16 May as the starting date for competitive matches as the GAA have consistently stated their desire to allow teams have a four-week collective pre-season.

Certain high performing athletes ‘as approved by Sport Ireland’ can also train again from this date. Both of these are now permitted by the Government’s decision to expand elite sports to include them.

A general view of Tullamore Golf Club.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

From 26 April it is allowed for ‘outdoor sports facilities’ to reopen around the country, that will include golf courses and tennis courts. Indoor facilities including clubhouses linked to these sports are to remain closed.

Non-contact outdoor training for underage teams across all sports is permitted from this date. These training sessions must be in pods of up to 15 and includes all exercise activites that can be delivered outdoors including dance. The measures here are subject to the prevailing public health situation.

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The FAI responded tonight to the easing of restrictions by acknowledging ‘the work of Government and its agencies to facilitate the return to training on 26 April, in pods of 15 for all underage players’.

CEO Jonathan Hill also assured ‘all amateur adult teams that this return for underage players is the first step towards a return to football for all grassroots players as Ireland eases out of lockdown’.

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