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Some counties may struggle to field teams next year due to Covid crisis, says Laois chairman

Concerns are growing in GAA circles with the loss of gate receipts.

Fans catching a glimpse of the Mayo SFC Breaffy-Westport clash on Sunday.
Fans catching a glimpse of the Mayo SFC Breaffy-Westport clash on Sunday.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

LAOIS CHAIRMAN PETER O’Neill believes that inter-county teams could be in serious trouble next year as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is felt on these shores.

On RTÉ Radio’s Drivetime this evening, O’Neill painted a bleak picture as he echoed previous concerns voiced by Offaly chairman Michael Duignan and his Westmeath counterpart Billy Foley.

Speaking in the wake of yesterday evening’s Government announcement to retain crowd restrictions for outdoor gatherings at 200, he told RTE’s Barry Lenihan:

“What’s happening at the moment with no crowds has very serious implications for us as a county.

“The championship revenue from the club games is our main revenue — and that’s what funds our inter-county teams — from minor up to senior in hurling and football.

“We would have taken €400,000 per annum from our gates. At this rate, it does look as if we’ll be down 80-85%. Because of Covid, we been have unable to have any fundraisers, which is probably another €100,000.”

All counties that I’m aware of,” he added, “except for probably the top four or five, would be in serious jeopardy and they would all be looking at deficits of up to €400,000.”

While Duignan spoke of serious worries in Offaly on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland today, Foley shared his grievances in today’s Irish Independent.

“This future for the GAA is bleak,” the Westmeath chairman said. “We could have 10 teams playing for the Sam Maguire and maybe eight for the Liam MacCarthy next year.

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“It’s shattering to any county but small counties in particular, the big counties will probably survive all right.”

And O’Neill too believes that a reduced number of inter-county teams could challenge for the All-Ireland championship titles in 2021.

“I would agree with Billy,” he added. “It is a strong fear at the moment. There doesn’t seem to be anything to change that view, there doesn’t seem to be any golden nugget that is going to come from anywhere — and I don’t expect it, to be quite honest with you.

“There’s no one going to pull a magic rabbit out of a hat and say, ‘Here’s half-a-million to every county in Ireland.’” 

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Emma Duffy

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