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Westmeath clubs told that coaches from lockdown counties should stay away

‘We reminded our clubs on Saturday morning that individuals had personal responsibility towards where they are and where they live.’

Covid 19 signage at training in Kilbeggan, Westmeath.
Covid 19 signage at training in Kilbeggan, Westmeath.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

WESTMEATH GAA CLUBS have been told by the county board that managers and coaches living in the lockdown counties should take “personal responsibility” and not attend games in the Lake County in the coming weeks.

Residents in Kildare, Offaly and Laois have been asked not to travel outside their county in the next two weeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the Midlands.

While games in the affected counties have been put on ice, championships in neighbouring counties will continue.

It means that managers and backroom team members living in Kildare, Offaly and Laois should not be travelling outside their county to attend games or training sessions according to government guidelines.

A number of managers and coaches that live in Offaly are involved with Westmeath SFC sides. But the county’s head of operations Patrick Doherty says as far as they are aware none attended championship games after restrictions were introduced last weekend.

“Basically we reminded our clubs on Saturday morning that individuals had personal responsibility towards where they are and where they live,” he told The42.

“And the fact our county is a neighbouring county so where we all need to be extremely careful and will be extremely careful, is we don’t necessarily know of the residence of all the individuals involved with clubs in our county.

“But I can categorically say to you now that some individuals that we know of who live in neighbouring counties did not attend games in Westmeath at the weekend.

“Does that mean there are other individuals from neighbouring counties who did? We quite honestly don’t know but we can absolutely say categorically that certain individuals took their personal responsibility very seriously and didn’t come to county Westmeath over the weekend.”

Going forward, Doherty says the responsibility isn’t with Westmeath GAA to police what counties individuals are coming from.

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“In terms of policing and the county board or county committee, do I know that a physio that’s involved with, to name a club as an example, St Joseph’s in Streamstown, do I know that person lives in county Offaly? I haven’t a clue.

“I don’t know that person from Adam, not to mind whether he or she lives in Offaly, Laois or Kildare. So we don’t know and we’re not in a position to know with the greatest respect.

“But I can absolutely say that individuals we do know live in other counties for sure did not attend games in Westmeath. I can say that without of contradiction that there are a number of individuals who are involved with clubs in Westmeath and they did not attend games in Westmeath over the weekend.

“To be fair, this is not a GAA policing matter, this is a personal responsibility matter. If there’s any policing to be done and I expect there probably isn’t. Are the Gardai going to stand on the top of the hill between Tullamore and Kilbeggan and stop cars passing?

“Is that going to happen in real life? So somebody that lives in Tullamore decides to drive into Westmeath to go to visit a friend is there something going to happen? With respect I don’t think it’s policing for GAA county boards, it’s persona responsibility.

“That’s certainly the way I see it, the same way as GAA clubs and people have been very responsible over the last four months. And I’m not for a moment saying that other people haven’t, I think generally speaking as people of the nation we’ve been very responsible and I think that simply will continue.”

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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