Aidan O’Shea fears club GAA may have to wait longer to return

Mayo footballer Aidan O’Shea would love to see the club game be the first to return when coronavirus restrictions are lifted but he believes that intercounty activity may be easier to control.
Aidan O’Shea fears club GAA may have to wait longer to return
Aidan O’Shea: The Mayo star is opposed to playing behind closed doors, but accepts that there may be no other choice. Photo: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Aidan O’Shea: The Mayo star is opposed to playing behind closed doors, but accepts that there may be no other choice. Photo: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Mayo footballer Aidan O’Shea would love to see the club game be the first to return when coronavirus restrictions are lifted but he believes that intercounty activity may be easier to control.

The GAA has committed to beginning with club action whenever it is deemed safe to return and while O’Shea is in favour of this approach, he accepts that there may be stumbling blocks to this approach.

“It is important, as an organisation, that club football takes precedence. If it had to be one or the other [club or inter-county], we should be making sure we build back up from the club.

"From a control perspective and talking to some of the doctors, that's a challenge,” said O’Shea.

“If we have a local derby here with the club, Breaffy, and people so hungry for sport, you'll see crowds you would never see at a club game.

"If we were playing Castlebar in a knockout club championship game in August, there is nothing to suggest that you wouldn't have 2-3,000 people at it. How you manage that from a club perspective, I don't know.

“I'd say there are players out there [who have a family member in the at-risk category] and it is more prevalent at club level as the net is wider so there are probably more players facing that risk and that challenge of whether they go back at it.

"I don't want to speak for every club player, but I am sure there are people with concerns around that.

“Is the inter-county game a little bit more controlled in terms of numbers, in terms of resources? I would think it is.

“We probably have the ability to maybe control people in and out of MacHale Park if that's where we're training, but then, we're amateur footballers.

"Brendan Harrison's going to be building houses, I'm going to be working for Allergen, so how you control that piece is going to be very difficult.

We're not going to be able to do what the NBA does and fly people into Orlando for six weeks. There's going to be a level of risk there and, unfortunately, if we want to play we're going to have to sign up to that.

"But if we are building this back up then the club needs to be front and centre, but in the right space.”

O’Shea has followed the return of the Bundesliga over the past fortnight and while he isn’t a fan of playing games behind closed doors, he accepts that there may be no other choice.

“If it's an absolute that we have to play behind closed doors, I would love to play. It flies in the face of the GAA and what we are about.

"We're not a professional organisation. The whole idea is that it is a community-based game, people travel and support their team.

"We should be playing in front of supporters, but again, hands could be tied on this one. A happy medium could be playing behind closed doors and giving people an outlet to watch on TV. People would love to see sport back in some capacity.

"As a player, if we can do that, and it brings a bit of joy back to people in their houses then absolutely I'd be up for it.”

The inactivity of recent months means the overall national cost of running inter-county teams for 2020 will be significantly down on last year’s €29.74m. The 29-year-old accepts “the costs for some of the counties are crazy”.

“I find it hard for the players in this argument because we’re not asking for professionalism, but we want to train and work as best we can to be the best we can, as an individual and as a team, and to provide the best product on the football pitch.

"I understand some of the costs for some of the counties are crazy.

"Maybe there should be controls around that, I don’t know. High-performance sport is expensive, and that’s what we’re in.”

- Aidan O’Shea was speaking ahead of the return of AIB's The Toughest Trade which airs on Monday, June 1st on Virgin Media

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