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Tyrone icon Canavan criticises GAA's 'drastic' call to suspend club games

The association made the decision following a number of post-match celebrations where there was a lack of social distancing.

Tyrone hero Peter Canavan.
Tyrone hero Peter Canavan.
Image: SPORTSFILE

Updated Oct 7th 2020, 9:39 PM

TYRONE LEGEND PETER Canavan has criticised the GAA’s call to suspend all club games, suggesting that the action was “too drastic.”

The association announced the decision on Monday following what they described as “a number of incidents” in relation to post-match celebrations and “a lack of social distancing” at recent games.

At the time, NPHET had issued a recommendation to impose Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions, with the Government subsequently opting for Level 3.

This allows for senior club championship games to proceed behind closed doors, but as of yet, the GAA has not indicated that they will be reversing their call.

Some counties have yet to finish their club campaigns, meaning that some competitions may go unfinished in 2020.

The Club Players’ Association has slammed the decision as “extremely unfair,” and while Canavan condemns the post-match celebrations where there was an absence of social distancing, he feels that shutting down club games is not the answer. 

“I think they were a bit too drastic or severe in the action they decided to take,” he begins.

“The fact that they have closed down all action, it just meant a very abrupt end to the season for a lot of teams that have reached finals. I just felt if they had given a week’s grace or 10 days, or even just played the remaining games behind closed doors, I think that would have been a big statement in itself.

The point John Horan made was that it wasn’t actually the playing of the games that was causing the problems, it was what was going on after. I just thought they should have held it off or given the opportunity to finish out the season for a number of teams.”

Canavan continues: “I still think they can change their mind. Even if those games were played behind closed doors. 

“Some action had to be taken. What was going on was not good enough. 

“But the problem is with numbers. Let the games go ahead without any numbers. So playing them behind closed doors and you still get the opportunity to compete and play off whatever final you’re in and you’re reducing any risk of any pitch invasions or anything like that?”

While club action is likely to be over, the inter-county hurling and football championships are still set to go ahead behind closed doors.

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The format of the football championship will revert to the straight knockout model which was in place before the qualifier system was introduced.

Tyrone will go into their Ulster SFC quarter-final against Donegal with some key losses in the squad, following the retirement of Colm Cavanagh while Cathal McShane is likely to miss the season through injury.

However, Conor McKenna has returned to the fold following his stint with AFL side Essendon.

afl-bombers-giants Conor McKenna [file photo]. Source: AAP/PA Images

“He’s back at training and the vibe is that he’s moving okay,” says Canavan about McKenna’s return to the county side.

“But the length of time he’s been out, it’s going to take him a while to get up to the speed of the game, to get used to playing with the round ball again.

But it’s the one good news story in Tyrone, when you consider Cathal McShane is out, the loss of Colm Cavanagh.

“Conor was a brilliant underage player for Tyrone, really exciting. So, he’s back, he’s training with the team but I wouldn’t be expecting too much of him. If he was to make the first 15, I think that would be a massive achievement for someone who has played no club football.

“He’ll be doing well to make the panel for the Donegal game in my opinion.”

Peter Canavan was speaking at the launch of Sky Sports’ Championship coverage. 

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