Support is building among Division 1 and 2 hurling counties for a minimum of five games in this year's Allianz Hurling League. 

The GAA has contacted counties to measure their opinion on whether a minimum of five or three league games is the optimum template for the coming weeks. 

Playing five games would mean that a three-week lead-in from the return to training date of 19 April could be implemented, bringing competitive action back a week earlier than anticipated and starting the season in the second weekend of May. 

Despite obvious time constraints there is still a willingness to give counties a 13-day break between league competition ending and the championship starting. 

The development comes as the GAA ramps up its process of planning for a return to sport at both inter-county and youth level. 

Dublin footballers broke Covid-19 rules to train collectively

Inter-county teams can return to train from 19 April with youths under 18 allowed a non-contact return on 26 April. 

The GAA’s Covid-19 advisory group, Central Competitions Control Committee and Management Committee will all convene virtually in the coming days before a formal schedule is ratified next week. 

In the meantime, the association will use the next number of weeks to finalise season structures and refine safety protocols as up to 700,000 members of the association prepare to return to activity.

500,000 of these are active players, meaning that the interim period between the Government green light and return to play will be needed to ensure all return protocols are back in place for all. 

Last year, 12 million Covid-19 health questionnaires were completed by parents and players before training and games. 

At their peak these questionnaires were submitted at a rate of eight per second. 

Those are considerable numbers and GAA sources have indicated that they will use the bridging period before return-to-play to prepare for similar figures this time around. 

Scheduling wise, there are a number of variables still at play. 

Initially, the GAA expected inter-county teams to be back training on 19 January with the Allianz Leagues set to start a month later. Almost 13 weeks have been lost, narrowing the window to complete 2020 fixtures even more. 

In addition, the 2020 minor hurling and football and under-20 hurling competitions still have to be completed. 

There are 11 counties who are also intent on finishing their 2020 club campaigns. 

But though the timeframe is narrow, officials are adamant that a meaningful games programme will be offered while every effort will be made to stage the other outstanding underage competitions. 

It’s understood completing the 2021 Allianz leagues, albeit in creative fashion this time around, is a top priority with counties indicating that they want this competition to take place. 

Meetings will be held over the coming week to define how to best divide the window between league, championship, underage competitions, club campaigns and outstanding fixtures. 

A revised schedule is due to be released at the end of next week.