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GAA president tells members not to be 'too despondent' as government maintain limit of 200 people at games

John Horan emphasised the importance of being merely able to stage games at the moment.

GAA president John Horan.
GAA president John Horan.
Image: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

GAA PRESIDENT JOHN Horan has told members not to become despondent as the government decided to maintain a strict limit of 200 people at outdoor events for at least another three weeks. 

Optimism had built over the last couple of days that the government would relax their limit on outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 500 people, including players and coaches.

That hope was scuppered following a meeting of Cabinet today, at which the government acted in accordance with “very firm” advice offered by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) following a rise in reported Covid-19 cases across the country. 

Taoiseach Michael Martin and Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn explained the decision to maintain the 200-person limit on crowds is primarily out of concern surrounding the travelling to and from games along with congregating outside of venues. 

The GAA had previously made a direct appeal to the Taoiseach to allow more people attend matches, arguing that the size of a GAA ground allows for greater numbers of people to socially distance. 

In an interview with the GAA’s website following the announcement by the government, Horan said members should retain optimism. 

“We don’t want our members becoming too despondent or disheartened. What’s important is that we have the games back and we keep them back and we continue to be vigilant and show leadership.

“This isn’t going as fast as we want but we’re still moving in the right direction.

“We made a strong case to both the Government and Nphet around the use of our bigger stadia for crowds of up to 400 excluding the players.

“But, obviously, with the numbers turning in the last few days they felt they couldn’t acede to our request and we have to respect that decision.” 

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The GAA resumed activity six weeks ago, and while some clubs have been forced into temporary shut-down following a positive Covid-19 test, Horan praised members’ response to positive cases and the wider adherence to safety protocols. 

“We’re in our sixth week back with activity and this has shown our procedures and education have worked well,” he says.

“The caution within the GAA community has highlighted outbreaks and led to areas taking precautions. When it hits a club everyone gets into high alert and that helps to stop the spread in that community. 

“Nearly four million health questionnaires that have been filled out by people going to training and matches and it’s creating an awareness in society and particularly in the GAA community that the virus is still out there. 

“I’d like to compliment the clubs and our volunteer leadership for all they’ve done and encourage people that if they suspect they have a case to come forward and be tested. 

“It’s important we treat people with respect and support if they are diagnosed with Covid-19. There should be no stigma whatsoever attached to this illness. 

“We all have to keep doing the right things and hopefully things will turn for us in three weeks’ time and we’ll then be able to get more people to attend games. 

“But the most important thing is that we don’t lose what we’ve gotten back so far. The playing of games and people being able to go training.”

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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