Kerry chair Tim Murphy says GAA must live with element of coronavirus risk

Kerry chairman Tim Murphy says people will have to acknowledge there is a risk to returning to a form of normality.
Kerry chair Tim Murphy says GAA must live with element of coronavirus risk
Kerry County Board chairman Tim Murphy. Picture: Dan Linehan

Kerry chairman Tim Murphy says people will have to acknowledge there is a risk to returning to a form of normality.

Murphy believes that reconciliation has to be the trade-off for Irish society and sport returning in the coming weeks.

GAA clubs in Kerry were so much to the fore in tackling the coronavirus crisis in the county that county council chief executive Moira Murrell told Murphy they wouldn’t have been able to do so without them.

As Kerry has reported no new cases for over three weeks, there is an urgency in the county to get back to business and activities. Murphy understands that but knows it comes with a caveat.

“A point will come where we’re going to have to accept that there’s a level of risk. We will be led by the health professionals on this, and I would expect at some point in time they will say that the risk is not eliminated but is so low that for society and everyone to get on with their lives there has to be an acceptable level of risk. Society will have to acknowledge that’s a given unless there’s a vaccine.

“At the same time, we will still have to do our utmost to social distance and make sure our hand hygiene is high and all those things we have been doing to keep the disease suppressed.”

Murphy is acutely aware of how trying the lockdown has been for GAA in Kerry when it hasn’t been hit as hard by the virus as other counties.

“For Kerry, it was extremely difficult for clubs particularly for rural clubs who didn’t have any open space bar the local GAA field or the walkway around it. Not having that available for exercise or a kickabout with the kids has been tough. In fairness, they bought into the wider Association’s needs, which were that the pitches stay closed including the walkways.

“But it was challenging, there is no point in saying otherwise for people in rural communities. In fairness, as an Association I think we’re going to come out of this an awful lot stronger, an awful lot more united. I genuinely believe that.”

Murphy was proud to receive the gratitude of the Kerry County Council.

“We were no different to any other county board in the country. We were involved from the infancy in the response to the county-wide response to Covid-19 led by the Kerry County Council, the HSE and the Gardaí.

"What it proved was how efficient the GAA as a community organisation is and how they can link in with the Kerry County Council. We would have an excellent relationship with the council anyway.

"It just proved the point that the GAA has a huge reach into Irish life and society.

“I just feel that the social capital, the term they use, you can’t really put a monetary figure on that, on what people do voluntarily for the greater good. We were only delighted to be part of that response.”

Kerry will look to begin their club championships as per the previous format, a minimum of three games for each club, before the county championships take place on a knockout basis. The change in format of the latter competitions is in keeping with an unprecedented year but he is confident it will add flavour to them.

We’re in a new world order albeit for a particular year. The rules of engagement are different for everyone hence alterations have to be made to what was the status quo. But having said that, it’s very exciting.

"The knockout element of the county championship will bring a new dimension, a new edge and a new level of excitement and certainly a whole new level of interest in the whole thing.

"What we want to do is get it out to as many people as we possibly can. Hopefully, the restrictions in the numbers who can attend games will have eased by that stage and people will be allowed to attend.

“Even that being the case, we want to get the games out there via streaming or whatever mode we can so that every one of our patrons and our supporters have the opportunity to see them.”

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