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'Please reopen our GAA pitches' - calls grow from star players for changes to current shutdown plan

TJ Reid and Steven McDonnell have both called for club grounds to be re-opened sooner than the planned 20 July date.

CALLS FOR GAA club pitches to be opened up again continue to intensify with Kilkenny hurling star TJ Reid and Armagh All-Ireland winner Steven McDonnell the latest leading figures to argue that it is time to allow access to those facilities.

tj-reid-arrives Kilkenny hurling star TJ Reid Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

GAA matches at county and club level continue to be off the agenda with the current directive seeing club grounds closed until 20 July at the earliest due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yesterday was the first date since mid-March that no deaths of people with Covid-19 were recorded, a development described as a ‘significant milestone’ by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

GAA President John Horan has suggested in a recent interview with BBC Northern Ireland that the re-opening of clubs may be fast-tracked.

“If there is one first step that we may make in terms of loosening things up it may well be that people will be allowed access to grounds for restricted periods of time under supervision, though with no ball activity.

“If there are walkways available then the elderly in the community could go down at a particular time of the day and have a period to exercise. Then later in the day other people could do the grounds for exercise.”

With public parks being utilised by small groups playing hurling or football, Reid believes it is time to open GAA pitches which would be of particular benefit to rural clubs.

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An All-Ireland club winner with Ballyhale Shamrocks in January, Reid also pointed out on Twitter that he believes club volunteers would be able to help with stewarding to ensure large crowds do not gather.

Steven McDonnell made similar points when he tweeted last night, the 2002 Sam Maguire victor feels the adherence to social distancing guidelines will not change if club pitches were open.

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Fintan O'Toole

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