Liam Sheedy: Championship behind closed doors would lift the nation

Tipperary senior hurling manager Liam Sheedy is convinced an inter-county championship behind closed doors along with stringent safety measures would lift the nation.
Liam Sheedy: Championship behind closed doors would lift the nation

Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Tipperary senior hurling manager Liam Sheedy is convinced an inter-county championship behind closed doors along with stringent safety measures would lift the nation.

The two-time All-Ireland winning boss, who was shortlisted for GAA director general in 2017, also questioned the organisation’s decision to keep pitches closed until July 20.

He recently expressed his support for a Championship behind closed doors over none at all and told 2FM’s Game On: “Ultimately, the GAA can wait until the end of June and see how those sports (restarting) have got on, how it’s worked out in Germany, has the Premier League started, and use those insights to see if it’s possible to run something in our sports.

“To be very clear, we are an amateur organisation, a lot of these people are going back to their families, and we’re not going to put anybody at risk. So it has to be safe to do whatever we decide to do. But if there was an opportunity to play some games I personally think it would be a massive lift.

“I think the impact it could have on the well-being and the overall health of our nation by seeing matches would trump everything for me. I would be for looking after people who maybe couldn’t go to matches anyway. In my own mother’s scenario in her later years, what she got from television and watching the matches when she couldn’t go did make a real difference and I do think behind closed doors would give the whole nation (a lift).

“Now, obviously that’s not financially viable, I’m not stupid, I know the numbers wouldn’t add up but I think that’s a question that needs to be posed to the country and say, ‘Listen, as a government is that something you want to consider understanding that here is the price that this would take?’ I know it’s a decision that mightn’t be reached easily but I definitely think if it was possible and safe to do so, it should be looked at.”

While full of praise for the GAA’s general actions during the coronavirus outbreak, Sheedy described the decision to keep premises closed until July 20 as “a missed opportunity”. He said: “This is one I’d love to see lifted, personally. I know there is a lifting of some places where people can go and venture from May 18. The reality is people feel on top of the world when they have a hurley or a football in their hand and they’re in their local pitch. There’s no doubt about it, there’s a real connection.

“People are nearly afraid to go to the hospital to get their checks done is what we’re hearing so I don’t really see where there would be a massive influx of people onto our pitches and it is a very safe environment to go where I feel social distancing could be adhered to.

“I think everybody in local communities are so aware of the importance of social distancing and hand-washing. It’s nearly become part of our lives. I do think the pitches around Ireland can give a lot (for mental fitness) especially in rural Ireland. I think it would be a massive win to go into your local pitches.

“If it can’t be policed or supported, you lock the gates but I do think we could trust the clubs and the members to respect the rules. If there were some places it couldn’t be done then that’s the decision you have to take.”

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