GAA senior inter-county teams can return to collective inter-county training from 19 April after approval from Cabinet on Tueesday.

Meanwhile, children's non-contact training for outdoor sports can resume in pods of less than 15 from 26 April as the Government unveiled some minimal easing of restrictions amid the Covid-19 Level 5 lockdown.

It had been hoped that inter-county training could resume on 12 April – the date club training across all ages and grades is expected to resume in Northern Ireland. 

Instead, an extra week will be required before resumption as directed by political leaders who want changes implemented on a phased basis. 

It means the window for games programmes at all levels is now extremely tight, but RTÉ Sport understands there remains a huge desire on the part of the GAA to stage the 2021 Allianz Leagues, albeit in a regionalised and compacted format.

The GAA reacted with both delight and caution to the government's decision.

In a note to clubs and county committees, President Larry McCarthy and Director General Tom Ryan said the announcement - and the return of youth training "hugely welcome".

The correspondence read: "These are hugely welcome developments and allow us finally to begin planning on-field activity for the remainder of 2021.

"However, it should also be noted that these dates are conditional and will very much depend on what happens in terms of the overall Covid-19 picture in the coming weeks.

In that regard, the GAA officials urged that no collective training sessions should be held between now and the government indicated return dates.

"Breaches in this context will not only be dealt with under our own rules but would likely put the broader plan to return to activity in serious jeopardy.

"As you will appreciate, we need to receive further clarity on aspects of what was announced today before finalising our plans for a return to training and ultimately games."

The Croke Park bosses said they would now finalise competition structures and dates for the up-coming inter-county season, as well as ensuring advice is provided for all clubs in relation to how they can safely recommence underage activity [and in the case of the 6 Counties, adult club training from 12 April].

The FAI - which has seen a successful start to its elite season, with the SSE Airtricity League and SSE Airtricity Women's National League both under way - also welcomed the government's announcement regarding children's training, heralding it as "the first step on a phased return for football at all levels of the game".

"Non-contact training in pods of 15 represents the start of a return for our game that will see all our players at all ages permitted to train and then to play in what we hope will be the near future," said CEO Jonathan Hill. 

"This battle with COVID-19 has been so demanding for Irish society and our footballers have had to endure so much in Level 5 lockdown."

For the GAA, a four-week pre-season would allow the leagues to commence in mid-May, on the weekend of 15/16.

From there, provincial championships and the All-Ireland series could roll out. 

It is hoped that a backdoor will be available in the hurling championship but, if the leagues proceed, the football campaign looks like it could be straight knockout.

After that, it will be over to club campaigns to see the year out with the possibility of the provincial and club championships rolling over to early 2022 if necessary.

But much work has to be undertaken before games can start.

The fact that 11 counties still have outstanding domestic championships from 2020 will also be factored in.

The Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) is expected to meet virtually after the GAA’s Covid-19 Advisory Group has given its recommendations.

Once those groups have met, the GAA’s Management Committee will need to ratify proposed structures.

Meanwhile, the HSE has confirmed Croke Park is to be used as a mass vaccination centre.

It is one of six GAA facilities among the 38 mass vaccination sites, alongside Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Mallow GAA complex, Clonakilty GAA Club in Cork, Simonstown GAA club in Navan, and Clonguish GAA club in Newtownforbes in Longford.