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Antrim boss says it's 'logical' to resume county game before club

Lenny Harbinson believes the fewer numbers involved make the return of the inter-county game easier to manage.

Antrim manager Lenny Harbinson.
Antrim manager Lenny Harbinson.
Image: Declan Roughan/INPHO

ANTRIM FOOTBALL MANAGER Lenny Harbinson believes inter-county action should return prior to the clubs once the GAA gets the green light to resume games. 

GAA President John Horan has stated that he doesn’t foresee any games returning while social distancing remains in place.

At the start of May, the GAA said the All-Ireland championships won’t be staged until October at the earliest.

Harbinson says it’s ‘logical’ for the inter-county game to return first due to the fewer numbers involved.

“For me, as a county manager, I’m going to say that the counties should start first,” he told BBC Northern Ireland.

“If you look at the logistics, 32 teams, hurling and football, backroom management teams, you’re probably talking 2,500 people. 

“So, to manage the county scene is easier than to manage the clubs. One club in Dublin could have 2,500 members. We know there are tens of thousands of club members so I don’t think we should start with the clubs first. 

“The natural, logical first step is from a county point of view. As I said, we’re talking about 2,500 people so it would be a lot easier to monitor that.”

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Harbinson, has been at the helm in the Saffron County since the 2018 campaign, also voiced his frustration at the mixed messages coming from the GAA hierarchy.  

“My slight disappointment from Central Council is that although they were very clear and measured and came out with a professional message in terms of lockdown, it’s been somewhat messy in terms of that clear, concise message about trying to return to the sport.

“I think the public and the GAA public are well aware of the situation,” he continued.

“If there was a two or three-step plan in place to say phase one would be at the end of August to complete the National Football League, stage two would be to start the first round of the Ulster championship or Leinster championship. 

“Then over a five or six-week period, you can have the All-Ireland series on a knockout basis.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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