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57% of GAA club players willing to return to action before Covid-19 vaccine in place

The CPA have surveyed players as a debate over a return to action in 2020 continues.
May 12th 2020, 2:50 PM 16,003 22

DOUBTS PERSIST OVER whether any GAA action on the pitch will be held in 2020 with only 57% of players surveyed by the Club Players’ Association willing to return to playing or training before a Covid-19 vaccine is in place.

niall-kenny-is-challenged-in-the-air-by-darragh-corcoran-and-joey-holden Action from the battle between Ballyhale and Borris-Ileigh in January's All-Ireland club hurling final. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

GAA President John Horan last night stated on The Sunday Game that he cannot see Gaelic Games being played at any level while social distancing remains in place.

Currently no on-field collective GAA training is permitted until 20 July at the earliest and the survey released by the CPA has illustrated the concerns that exist amongst club players with 3,008 respondents completing it.

With over half of club players prepared to return this year, 22% are opposed to such a move and 21% don’t know at this juncture.

gary-sice-blocks-a-shot-from-paul-devlin Kilcoo and Corofin players in action in January's All-Ireland club decider Source: INPHO

Other findings include:

  • 61% are prepared to attend club games whilst only 34% are prepared to attend inter-county games
  • 27% of club players live with a person over 70 years of age or a vulnerable individual
  • 64% would train or play if there was temperature checking in place
  • 20% would train of play if every player and official wore a mask during the game

CPA chairman Micheál Briody responded to the findings:

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“All sporting bodies are faced with the unenviable task of determining when it is safe for their games to resume in light of the Covid-19 pandemic shut down. The GAA as an amateur body, probably has a more difficult task than most because their players all work or study so it is not possible to bubble wrap them between games.

“Those players will return to families, workplaces, schools or colleges and the task of contact tracing becomes more difficult.

micheal-briody CPA chairman Micheal Briody Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“We are pleased that Croke Park has formed a Covid-19 Advisory Group. It is disappointing that there is no direct advocate for the club playing population but it is very positive to see four doctors on the Group. It should be the advice of the medical experts that trump any other stakeholder in the room.

“We have sent a copy of the survey results yesterday to Ard Stiúrthóir Tom Ryan so he could pass it onto the Covid -19 Advisory Group. We have also indicated to him that we will make available our database of members to the Advisory Group should they wish to survey or communicate with club players on any point in their deliberations.

“The importance of the GAA’s role in every community around Ireland was highlighted by the extent of voluntary initiatives organized by clubs to assist people in need of help during the pandemic. This further brings to focus the need of the GAA to remember the grass roots of the organization as they grapple with restructuring the fixtures calendar for 2021”

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Fintan O'Toole

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