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O'Rourke: 'The GAA are being ultra cautious. It's time now to be moving on a bit quicker'

Colm O’Rourke was speaking on The Sunday Game tonight.

Colm O'Rourke on The Sunday Game tonight.
Colm O'Rourke on The Sunday Game tonight.
Image: RTÉ

COLM O’ROURKE SAYS the GAA should speed up the opening of club grounds, calling their approach “ultra-cautious”.

Speaking on tonight’s The Sunday Game on RTÉ, the Meath legend said youngsters in particular should be allowed enter GAA pitches as infection rates in the community remains very low.

“Maybe I’m more of a risktaker,” said O’Rourke. “I think the initial approach of caution was a good one, I don’t think we disagree with that, but I think it’s time now to be moving on a bit quicker.  

“Even the medics can’t agree on things, whether we should or shouldn’t wear masks, whether it’s two metres or one metre or no metres [of social distancing]. Particularly in the case of U15s, there’s very little of it in the country so I’d think we should be getting these people back out. 

“It would be very good for young fellas in particular to get back out playing,” he said. “There has to be a balance between risk of doing nothing and the risk of young people being locked up for a longer period of time and the physical and mental problems that’s causing in our young population.

“We need to get them away from their devices, we need to get them back out. Physically and mentally, wellbeing is a very big issue so I think the GAA are being ultra cautious on this one. 

“I see golf clubs now with somebody on the gate where they’re allowing in people to play. I could see no reason why clubs couldn’t organise a similar situation where you’d have somebody on the gate, allow in groups to play their ball and another group come in after.

“The GAA are very good at regualting things and looking after their own members’ wellbeing and interests. I could see no reason for locking up the walkways – it was the safest place in the world for a lot of people to be, particularly older people. Instead of having them walking around the pitches they were forcing them onto roads.

“I think we need to move on a bit quicker and I would hope Dick [Clerkin] and his group would be advising a speedier return to action,” he added.

Also appearing on the show was former Monaghan footballer Clerkin, who is a member of the GAA’s Covid-19 Advisory Group.

He confirmed that designated walking tracks around club premises will be permitted to reopen if Phase Two of the government’s roadmap commences as planned on 8 June. 

“A lot of detailed work has gone on since the start of the advisory group around the overall return to play roadmap,” the two-time Ulster SFC winner said.  

“We’re at the final stages of putting a draft document on that together and we hope to be issuing that in the coming days in moving with the government.

“If we move too soon, because of the scale and volume of the membership, you don’t want to be in a position that you’re contributing to a step backwards. You have to be a wee bit more conservative because of the pure size and scale of the organisation.”

Clerkin also said the group are putting together a “safe plan” so the Cúl Camps “are in a position to run at the end of the summer.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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