With National competition set to resume on August 31st the CCCC have produced a Clár for the remaining months of the year. With Covid-19 very much still in our community the primary concern is to ensure the safe return of GAA Handball activity while ensuring the safety of all our members and the general public.
CCCC consulted with the relevant bodies throughout the process and found there was a lack of appetite from clubs to host games which is understandable in the current climate.
As part of a recent grant application for support funding a survey has been sent to clubs. The key findings of this survey was that only 50% of clubs that responded have returned to action with most only catering for member training with less than 15% of respondents feeling comfortable to host national fixtures.
The risk of spreading the virus at National level is far greater with the potential for people travelling from different parts of the country to compete. Added to this a very small number of clubs are willing to host games so a reduced programme of fixtures was the only sensible way forward.
Following this a decision was taken to prioritise Juvenile Handball in order to keep our juveniles involved in the game and also the Senior Singles championships as the Blue riband events in order to preserve sponsorship agreements to prevent further financial loss for the association. It was also proposed to amend the scoring to ensure that players spend less time in the alley in line with indoor recommendations in relation to Covid-19. This is a temporary change approved by Ard Comhairle for the remainder of this year.
With this in mind, the CCCC has agreed the following revised Clár which has been approved by Ard Comhairle.
Softball (commencing September/October)
- Softball Senior Singles Championships Men's & Ladies. (2 x 21 and tiebreak to 11)
- Softball Minor Singles Championship Boys & Girls. (2 x 21 and tiebreak to 11)
- Softball Juvenile Grades U14, U15, U16, U17 Boys & Girls. (3 x 15)
- 4-Wall All-Ireland Singles Finals postponed in March to be completed.
- Wallball competition to be run at provincial level.
Regarding Doubles Handball, the CCCC will review and make an informed decision on the possibility of organising Doubles competitions by the middle/end September depending on the situation with Coronavirus and any restrictions in place at that stage.
The Clár covers events at National level and this does not mean that clubs/counties/provinces cannot run competitions in other grades if they so wish in line with the recommendations in the Safe Return to play roadmap and government guidelines.
In relation to venues that do host games it is intended that a support grant/pack will be made available to venues that host national fixtures. This will be in the form of a grant payment towards costs or a pack including sanitiser, signage etc. for the club.
With regards to spectators we will follow the guidelines available, but a decision will be made closer to the time in line with the guidelines. We will endeavour to stream as many games live as possible, but this is dependent on a number of factors the main one being sufficient internet coverage in the venue for streaming and the availability of our streaming partners as their workload has increased immensely due to demand for live streaming arising from Covid 19 restrictions on crowds.
The availability of the National Handball Centre for the All Ireland finals will be dependent on the HSE and if they still require the centre for testing. Following that there are a number of snag list items that need to be completed. There will be a meeting in relation to this in the near future where clarity will be sought on same.
We must remember we are a volunteer-led organisation and participation is always voluntary. Players, mentors, referees, and club officers may choose to opt-in or opt-out from activity at any level at their discretion. We would also remind all members that this is the current situation and is prone to change if required. This is an ever changing situation and flexibility and change may be needed depending on the status of the virus.
Uachtarán Dessie Keegan had the following message for all members.
"I would like to thank CCCC members on presenting the proposal for the softball season. It has been a difficult few weeks for all the members of CCCC as they were in constant contact with various officials at grassroot level. Each member of CCCC would have heard first hand all the concerns from these officials and also the players. I feel CCCC have brought forward the best possible proposal with the available infrastructure in mind. I appeal to all members to fully support the recommendations put forward by CCCC".
Further updates will be issued as required.