The GAA season is hanging by a thread, warns former Tipperary goalkeeper and manager Ken Hogan, who urged players, officials and supporters to take responsibility to make sure we ‘cling onto what we have’.
Several high-profile club matches were called off over the weekend due to Covid-19 cases, including two Cork Premier SFC quarter-finals. In Galway, four games were called off including the SHC semi-final between reigning champions St Thomas' and Cappataggle. The Donegal senior panel are also self-isolating after a member of Declan Bonner’s squad tested positive for Covid-19.
And speaking with Anthony Daly on this week’s Irish Examiner GAA podcast, Hogan, who manages the St Rynagh’s hurlers in Offaly, expressed fears that the GAA season won’t be completed if cases spiral further.
“It’s a huge worry. We’re hanging by a thread. The cases were huge again on Sunday.
“Everyone is on a red alert. Whenever you come together now as a team and a group of players, as well as having their own water bottles and towels and keeping apart from each other, the important thing you're saying at the end of every session is 'keep safe, keep out of harm's way, look after yourself, mind your own business. And don't get caught in a situation where you are in groups'.
“We’ve got to keep emphasising that everyone has to take responsibility, It’s hanging by a thread. Sport has kept us going. We’re talking about the inter-county championships coming up. It’s going to shorten the winter for us. If we can see the county players, hurling and football, it’ll shorten the winter for the people of Ireland.
“It’s so important we cling onto what we have and take responsibility.”
Hogan attended the Tipperary senior hurling finals at the weekend, as fans returned to games, with his own Lorrha club beaten in the Seamus Ó Riain final by Mullinhaone. And he paid tribute to all the county boards for delivering a summer of entertainment with little revenue coming in.
“Hats off to the Tipp county board for running the championships magnificently. Everyone was accredited going in at the weekend. Contact tracing was there. Nobody was shirking responsibility. They ran a brilliant championship with absolutely no revenue coming in.”
Meanwhile, TJ Ryan, manager of the St Thomas’ hurlers, was impressed with the swift handling of their Covid case, which sees their Galway SHC semi-final rescheduled to next weekend.
“There was a Covid case in the club, it was a casual contact. There was a lot of work done between the club and the county board and Nphet. The advice was very good. The HSE was involved. It was very clear and very quick. The game was called off. Cappa' agreed and were happy to do it and the game has been pushed out a week.
“It’s a tricky scenario for everyone involved but it looks like the correct decision was made."