'Kerry County Council would not have coped with coronavirus crisis without GAA aid'

GAA president John Horan has been told the Kerry County Council would not have been able to cope during the height of the coronavirus crisis without the assistance of the sports organisation.
'Kerry County Council would not have coped with coronavirus crisis without GAA aid'

The GAA president maintained the social distancing restriction of two metres remains the largest stumbling block for the return of games. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
The GAA president maintained the social distancing restriction of two metres remains the largest stumbling block for the return of games. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

GAA president John Horan has been told the Kerry County Council would not have been able to cope during the height of the coronavirus crisis without the assistance of the sports organisation.

Kerry chairman Tim Murphy told Horan that Kerry County Council chief executive Moira Murrell was deeply grateful for the role the GAA played in helping communities during the outbreak.

“The actual work that has been going on in terms of working with the councils and delivery and that is huge,” Horan told the official GAA website in an interview conducted at Croke Park on Tuesday, which was released today.

“Take it further, the coaches, the work they’re doing in keeping in contact with their players and keeping them active and involved.

“I was just speaking to the county chairman (Murphy) in Kerry this morning and he actually said the county manager in Kerry said to him without the GAA the local council would not have been able to deal with the problems that were facing the country at the time and that’s a great compliment to hear back.

“But, look, my own club (Na Fianna) is struggling, everybody’s club is struggling. We will come out of this but we have to come out of it safe and then we can address those issues.”

As the GAA are said to be strongly considering opening their grounds gradually from Monday week, Horan maintained the social distancing restriction of two metres remains the largest stumbling block for the return of games.

“We will get back - it’s the timing of it that has to be appropriate for everybody’s safe well-being. When that comes around, I’ll be happy to say, ‘Yeah, we’re back, let’s get on with it’. As long as social distancing is the priority at two metres, that is a big hurdle for us to bring back contact sport.”

Horan also said there remain major coronavirus issues for the urban areas of the country to tackle and the GAA can’t make any distinction between its presence there and in rural Ireland.

“The clear focus of this (Covid-19 advisory) group and of ourselves is to get a return (to play) but this return has to be safe. And I understand there is a huge frustration out there and you can see articles in the media where people are pushing to go back but if you take into account what the Government have said the guideline pushes it out of July 20. We have never pushed beyond that date.

“If we can bring that forward, we will bring it forward but we will only do it in a prudent manner and a manner that’s safe for our membership. There are parts of Ireland where the outbreaks of the Covid-19 virus is very low and people may well feel safe there.

"But overall, it’s across the Association, we have to stay in this together and the big challenges are probably more in urban areas and I do understand that and I do get a feel for the frustration and people are contacting me about that frustration but we have to make safe and prudent decisions going forward.”

He added: “I understand the challenges on clubs throughout the country from a financial point of view but we’re looking at this, we’re doing our best and I’m not going to come out and make false, populist promises about anything we can or cannot do for clubs. But we are aware of it all and we will drive on and hopefully stay together in this challenge.”

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