Ulster Head of Operations Stephen McGeehan says it is a massive boost for adult and youth GAA players in the six counties to be able to resume training on 12 April.

The Ulster Council and the GAA's Covid-19 Advisory Group made the decision to return in accordance with directives recently issued by the Northern Ireland Executive for that jurisdiction.

While no inter-county activity is sanctioned for that date, full contact club training at adult and underage levels in groups of up to 15 is permitted.

Although club games are not allowed until further notice, McGeehan believes that the benefits of physical exercise and social interaction will be massive.

Club walkways and recreational use of facilities will also be allowed – provided they are managed to public health safety standards.

"Essentially, this allows our youth to get back involved in GAA and physical exercise once more," McGeehan said.

"And more so than playing sports, it’s the social interaction with peers that will be so important for that particular age group."

There has been much scrutiny on the Association’s decision to allow these counties resume activity before clubs in the other 26 counties.

McGeehan says that at various stages over the past year certain regions have experienced different challenges in dealing with Covid-19.

He maintains that flexibility is necessary and also feels that the counties who do have a green light for 12 April can only help remind Governments and health officials how responsible GAA members are in their approach to activity in the current Covid-19 climate.

"A lot of commentary recently has centred on the Association moving together and of course it will do so in terms of competition and games," McGeehan stated.

"But things are always going to be evolving when you have two different governments and two different jurisdictions. Some things will happen at a different pace.

"Right now, resuming club training will get young people in the northern jurisdiction going again and it will be a great development in that we will demonstrate once more how well the GAA works in terms of approach, activity and, down the line, safely getting games up and running again.

"Our members will do whatever they are required to do to ensure a safe return of activity and I think the return on 12 April will only reassure NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team) and the southern Irish government that GAA people still have the appetite and resilience to do whatever is necessary to resume activity in a safe and responsible manner."

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McGeehan added that the return of activity in the north will also help to encourage others that light can soon emerge from the dark tunnel of repeated lockdowns.

"To see youth level, Go Games and adult level activity coming back will be a serious step towards normalisation," the Ulster official said.

"It is a huge privilege for us to be able to do this. Indoor sports, for instance, are not allowed back yet.

"With that privilege comes the responsibility of ensuring everything is done in a safe and controlled manner. And that’s where the GAA excels. You can see that from the 12 million registrations of Covid-19 health questionnaires in our app systems from last year. The key is to get back. From there, it’s to ensure the continued safety of our members in a pandemic," the Ulster Head of Operations concluded.

As of yet, there is no definite news on a return to activity for GAA players and teams in the south.

Croke Park bosses are awaiting details from an expected update next Tuesday on possible easing of restrictions.

NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team) has pushed back a briefing from the end of this week to early next.

On Monday, public health experts will consider the latest data to hand before meeting the Government.

Based on that meeting, the Government will consult its special Covid-19 advisory task force before making an announcement on possible easing of restrictions.

From there the GAA will react and adapt to whatever is put in front of them.

Ideally, NPHET will look for case numbers to reach low levels in the community, for the vulnerable to be protected, and for the vaccine rollout to enjoy a significant reach before they look at easing limitations.

However, despite case numbers stalling and rising slightly in recent days, there is positivity that a return to activity in the 26 counties can soon be achieved.

Yesterday, correspondence between Croke Park and county boards said that while there were undoubtedly challenges ahead for the Association, there was also plenty of hope that with the availability of vaccines and the roll out of the inoculation programmes North and South of the border, a summer filled with Gaelic Games activity lay ahead.