GAA president dismisses 'irresponsible' report on inter-county return

“I'm kind of aghast at where this story has come from.”
GAA president dismisses 'irresponsible' report on inter-county return

Plans to introduce extensive testing of players so as to allow inter-county panels return training have been described as “irresponsible” by GAA president John Horan.

It was reported over the weekend that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport is considering the establishment of a stringent Covid-19 testing regime - which would see around 2,000 players, managers, and backroom staff subject to regular swabbing - in a bid to allow county teams return inside the whitewash at some point this summer.

GAA president Horan this morning refuted such speculation.

“I'm quite shocked by this story. This was very much a nothing story over the weekend and, to be honest with you, somewhat irresponsible," Horan told RTÉ Radio 1.

“It caused a nervousness among membership throughout the country: 'are we as an organisation putting the inter-county player ahead of the club player?'

“We're regularly in contact with government departments and at no stage have we discussed the return to training of inter-county players with any government department. I'm kind of aghast at where this story has come from.”

He added: “We're going to act totally responsibly. Social distancing of two metres is a high priority at the moment. I can't see contact sport coming on board in the short term.

“Our amateur athletes, they go back to their families, they go back to their workplace. We can't put any of those people, or those people they come in contact with, at risk just for the sake of playing games. We won't be making any rushed decision on this.”

Two weeks ago, the GAA identified July as the earliest possible start date to the All-Ireland Championships. Horan conceded this morning there will be no return to action in July.

He confirmed that club players will be first to return across the white paint whenever health authorities green light the resumption of GAA activity.

“If and when we do return, the club scene will be our priority because 98% of our activity happens at club level. As we're looking at it, at the moment, our return initially will be back to club activity before we engage in the inter-county playing.”

There is the prospect, he added, of the inter-county championships, should they throw-in later in the year, running into 2021.

“I think there's a hunger and an appetite out there among both players and spectators to see the games being played. I think people would accept that if we were to make such a decision that it would be to the benefit of everyone involved.”

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