Michael Duignan [file photo] Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO
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'There’s a lot of people calling for the matches to be stopped which I don’t agree with'

Michael Duignan says the GAA competitions ‘are worth fighting for’ as action resumes this weekend.

OFFALY GAA CHAIRMAN Michael Duignan says he doesn’t agree with those who are concerned about sports events going ahead despite a surge in Covid-19 cases in Ireland.

The country is now in Level 3 in terms of restrictions, while border counties Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan have been placed on Level 4 following the Northern Ireland Executive’s decision to introduce its own tough measures.

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin also announced that nationwide restrictions on household visits are will be implemented from midnight tonight.

Elite sport is still permitted to continue, which includes inter-county games. The resumption of the Allianz Football League gets underway this weekend with the football and hurling championships to follow.

Westmeath footballer John Heslin is among those to express doubts about continuing with GAA competitions, saying he is “concerned from a health and welfare perspective, both individually and collectively, for those contributing to the inter-county season.”

Duignan says he welcomes the GPA’s survey of its members about whether or not they want games to go ahead, but he is hopeful that the season will proceed as planned.

I notice a big change of mood even in the last 24 hours in the country, there’s a lot of people calling for the matches not to go ahead and be stopped which I don’t agree with personally.

“But I think, we have to take the stakeholders’ views on boards. The players this morning are being asked by the GPA what their view is which I think is welcome. For the management teams and players, a logistical nightmare is the way I’d describe it trying to get everyone to training and get them away safely.”

Remarking on the precautions they are taking in Offaly, Duignan added:

“For example in Offaly last weekend, I met with the team doctor and we looked at the guidelines from the government and the GAA and we thought they probably weren’t even strict enough.

rte-gaa-championship-launch-2020 Pauric Lodge, Des Cahill, Clare McNamara and Ciaran Whelan at the launch of RTÉ's GAA championship coverage. David Fitzgerald / SPORTSFILE David Fitzgerald / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

“So we closed our dining room, closed our dressing rooms, put up a marquee even though we have fantastic facilities there and we can abide by the guidelines we felt we would go that extra step. It’s very difficult, it’s changing daily and there are cases arriving on our table every day be it close contacts or positives cases.

We have no positives cases in our senior camps, we had an underage player and that tracked back to a number of other players being deemed close contacts.

“So it’s tough going but I think it is worth fighting for. If we look back at the end of December I think the difference playing these matches will make to the good of the country will be massive. And that’s my motivation to try and keep it going.”

Michael Duignan was speaking at the launch of RTÉ’s GAA championship coverage. 

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