Congress decision gives GAA flexibility to react to Covid-19

The GAA will be quicker to react to the latest social distancing restrictions as a result of yesterday’s Special Congress decision to hand over temporary powers to their management committee.
Congress decision gives GAA flexibility to react to Covid-19
Nothing to see here: Croke Park was quiet yesterday despite the meeting of Special Congress, as delegates met via video/teleconference. For the next 12 weeks at least, Coiste Bainistí will have additional authority to make calls that would have otherwise required a convening of Congress.

- With additional reporting from Paul Keane

The GAA will be quicker to react to the latest social distancing restrictions as a result of yesterday’s Special Congress decision to hand over temporary powers to their management committee.

For the next 12 weeks at least, Coiste Bainistí will have additional authority to make calls that would have otherwise required a convening of Congress.

Chief among them are the structure and schedule of the inter-county championships, but there was no discussion regarding them during yesterday’s Special Congress via video/teleconference.

Instead, management committee will be taking counsel from the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee before coming to decisions, none of which are expected to be made prior to May 5 when the current protocols are set to lapse.

It is already anticipated that the Championship won’t return until early July at the earliest, and club action will precede it.

The GAA released a one-line statement following the conclusion of the virtual gathering: “The motion at the GAA’s Special Congress for a temporary governance structure in emergency situations was passed unopposed.”

The decision has been hailed as a common-sense call by several delegates as it affords the organisation more flexibility in responding to the latest corona-virus developments.

It is understood London had proposed an amendment to the motion, which would have allowed for more

engagement in the decision-making process during the current emergency. However, it was only received yesterday morning and was not supported.

Delegates, which included the 32 county chairs in Ireland and 14 overseas, were informed of exactly what powers the 15-man management committee would be entrusted with and, in the event of sickness, how the group would operate.

The 15-man committee are: John Horan (GAA president), Aogán Farrell (former GAA president), Liam Lenihan (Munster chair, Limerick), Pat Teehan (Leinster chair, Offaly), Oliver Galligan (Ulster chair, Cavan), Gerry McGovern (Connacht chair, Leitrim), Paul Foley (Britain chair, Cardiff), Denis Holmes (Limerick), John Murphy (Sligo), Tom Farrell (Westmeath), Seamus Ó Domhnaill (Donegal), John Costigan (GAA trustee, Tipperary), Larry McCarthy (GAA trustee, New York), Liam Keane (GAA nominee, Meath), and Eddie Sullivan (GAA nominee, Dublin).

GAA director general Tom Ryan also attends, but does not have a vote.

Meanwhile, the Leinster Council have followed Ulster in proposing changes to streamline their minor

competitions in the wake of the latest coronavirus protocols.

The council’s Competitions Control Committee are recommending the minor football and hurling championships be played in a knockout format.

It is put forward that Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, and Wexford automatically qualify for the minor hurling championship, with Carlow, Kildare, Longford, Meath, Westmeath, Wicklow, Antrim and Down having the choice of joining them or playing in the Peadar Ó Liathin Cup.

The counties have been asked to submit their preference by Tuesday.

Both minor competitions were scheduled to be played on a round-robin group format — the football split into three groups (Dublin, Laois, Longford, and Westmeath; Kildare, Louth, Meath, and Wexford; Carlow, Offaly, and Wicklow) and the hurling competition comprising two sections (Dublin, Kilkenny, and Wexford, plus Offaly, Laois, and Carlow/Meath).

Earlier this week, Ulster GAA’s Competitions Control Committee chose to cancel their minor preliminary round championship game, which was scheduled to take place this weekend, and revert to a straight knockout format mirroring the 2020 Ulster Senior Football Championship draw.

Elsewhere, Dublin footballer Shane Carthy has compared dealing with the crisis to being ‘on lockdown’ again in St Patrick’s Mental Health Hospital.

The 25-year-old gave around 100 separate talks last year about his battle with depression and is due to release a book on the subject later this year.

Carthy, who had suffered from depression for years, was treated in the hospital for 11 weeks in 2014 after blacking out following a panic attack, days after his man of the match display in Dublin’s Leinster U21 final win.

“In a strange way, this lockdown has so many reminiscents of St Pat’s, when I was there, when I was on lockdown, essentially locked away from the world and my only respite was getting out to the Phoenix Park for a run and all that kind of stuff,” he said in an online discussion about mental health with Dublin supporters group Hill 16 Army.

“I was obviously going in there for the hospital (treatment).

“It’s a hugely difficult time now for everyone. Everyone is in this. There’s a huge pool of people who are obviously worried and anxious and don’t really know what to do.

"My advice, when I was in hospital, and I’m doing it now, it’s the exact same thing, is first and foremost have a structure to your day.”

Meanwhile, the death has taken place of Waterford’s 1959 All-Ireland SHC winner Joe Harney.

The Newtown-Ballydurn man lined out at corner-back in both the draw and replay against Kilkenny.

He was on the Déise team that claimed Munster titles earlier that season and two years previous.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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