'In a good place' - Dublin's Covid breach won't impact inter-county return, says GAA President

Another incident may, Larry McCarthy said – while stressing how important the return of club is.

GAA President Larry McCarthy.
GAA President Larry McCarthy.
Image: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

THE GAA PRESIDENT believes that Dublin’s training session which breached Covid-19 guidelines will not affect the return to inter-county activity — but another incident may.

Speaking on Red FM’s Big Red Bench this evening, Larry McCarthy said the planned return is “in a good place” despite recent reports of breaches of GAA and Government guidelines.

On Thursday morning, the Irish Independent published photos of Dublin players at an early-morning training session on Wednesday. It’s reported that at least nine players from the All-Ireland six-in-a-row winning side participated in the session at Innisfails GAA club in Balgriffin.

Afterwards, the GAA expressed “frustration and extreme disappointment” in a strongly-worded statement, while Dublin suspended manager Dessie Farrell for 12 weeks.

The Irish Examiner also reported on Tuesday that Gardaí were investigating possible breaches of Covid-19 regulations with training sessions held by a club in West Cork.

These reports of breaches came the week it was announced that collective senior inter-county training is permitted to resume from 19 April, with a regionalised National League expected to start in May.

A letter was also issued to club and county secretaries afterwards, warning them that counties who resume training early will be punished and potentially put the return to play “in serious jeopardy”.

While McCarthy believes all will proceed as planned at the minute, another county team breaching restrictions would put the return at risk.

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“I don’t think honestly this particular incident is going to impact it,” he told Valerie Wheeler on the Cork radio station when asked about the Dublin breach.

“Now, if there was another one? Oh Lord, that would make it very difficult for us.

I’m reasonably confident at the moment that we will get back, assuming that the numbers stay where they are and that the public health authorities don’t decide that they’ve gone awry over Easter or anything like that.

“All going well, fingers crossed, I think we’re in a good place.”

McCarthy, living in the capital having recently moved from New York, confirmed that the GAA’s management committee appointed a special group to investigate Dublin’s breach.

“Coiste Bainistí had an emergency meeting and we appointed an investigation committee to look into it, as we did with the Cork incident and Down incident earlier in the year so we’re adopting the exact same procedures.”

McCarthy noted that it will be difficult to “keep everybody happy” in terms of fixtures, but getting clubs back to action is his priority.

“We will have a comprehensive games programme,” he continued.

“We’re working on it at the moment. It’s going to be concertinaed a little bit so it’s going to make it a little more difficult and a little bit more challenging. But I’ve no doubt with the help of the counties and with the help of the players we will have a programme of games right through the summer.

But the more important element of that is I just hope to God we get the clubs up and operating. The 98% is more important than the 2% but the 2% are our shop window. The ideal here is to get the clubs back as quickly as is feasible.” 

Asked if he wanted a National League, a championship, and club action, McCarthy listed them in order of priority: “Let me rephrase that. I want club action, then we want League, and then we want Championship.

“I’d love to see the clubs back now but at the moment we only have permission obviously for the inter-county stuff to come back, so we’ll run a league and we’ll run a championship and see where we go after that.”

You can listen to the full interview with McCarthy here.

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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