Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty has welcomed easement of Stormont Executive Covid-19 restrictions for the training and playing of GAA games. Training can officially commence from tonight.

The GAA have made the decision to hold the All Ireland Hurling and Football Finals in December.

Mr McNutly said, "Confirmation came this week from the Executive that contact sports training can resume from Monday 29th June and then games can recommence from Friday 17th July.  This will be welcome news in every parish and townland across this island. Avid GAA fans have been eagerly awaiting the return of our sport and this will be welcome news for both players and supporters of all ages.

"This has been swiftly followed by confirmation from the GAA that the All Ireland Championship will be played, all be it in a streamlined format with finals scheduled just before Christmas.  We all now know what every GAA fan in Armagh and indeed in every county in Ireland want for Christmas is Sam Maguire or Liam McCarthy in their county.

"The return of sport is very important, not just for those who play the game, but for those who follow it too.  Mental health is equally as important as physical health and the return of our national game in terms of playing, club involvement and supporting will give people an outlet and a much-needed distraction from the news.  This is a good week for the return of our games and I know the GAA will work with the authorities north and south to ensure crowds are managed, social distancing is observed and the health of players and spectators alike is protected."

The All-Ireland Hurling Final will take place Sunday, December 13 with the All-Ireland Football Final taking place the following weekend on Saturday, December 19.

All championship matches in both codes up to and including the All-Ireland Finals will be finished on the day. If the teams are still level after two ten minute periods of extra-time, the tie will be decided by penalties.

The provincial Championships have been retained in both codes but the Football championship is a straight knock-out competition with no second chances while the hurling championship will have qualifiers as part of the All-Ireland series for those teams who are defeated in their province.

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