Kilkenny team doctor Tadhg Crowley says wearing a mask would be a small price to pay to be able to watch your county in this year’s Championship.
Although face coverings for spectators are advised by the GAA, the Tralee-born medic would have no issue if the wearing of the face coverings was made mandatory at games. He argues it would make attending games even safer than they already are and demonstrate a positive message.
Last month, GAA Covid advisory group member and international infectious diseases expert Professor Mary Horgan suggested making masks compulsory for supporters could allow crowd restrictions to be eased.
As the English government has had to park its plans to allow the return of crowds to games from October 1, Crowley has echoed Cork chairperson Tracey Kennedy’s call for supporters to do their part in ensuring matches continue to take place and some of them can attend them.
“I don’t think it’s a big imposition to wear a mask, and apart from anything else, it sends out a message that you’re trying to protect the person next to you,” said Crowley. “You’re all there to watch a match but it shows you’re taking this disease seriously and you’re doing your bit to make sure the matches continue.
“I don’t think it’s a big thing to wear one at a match. I’m wearing them all day at work and they’re not a problem. We all want a Championship to go ahead but more than that we want a Championship that spectators can go and watch. For me, if the price is wearing a mask and you get to see your team, if that’s the price for me being able to go to Páirc Uí Chaoimh and watch Kerry against Cork I’ll bring two of them.
“We have jumped so many hurdles to get to this point of club games taking place and now in front of crowds again, and the only hurdle in front of us and getting to the Championship is keeping these numbers down.
“The Championship going ahead with some crowds would be an achievement. I read once before that small victories help win the war and this could be one of them.”
The Kilkenny city GP accepts there are going to be social distancing slips. “It’s hard. We forget. You’re at a game, you get excited and you talk to the person beside you. But if we can try and remember the individual responsibility of hand washing, social distancing, and wearing the mask, if we can bring that to the game, that would send a powerful message out.”
Crowley hopes crowd restrictions can be eased so as to allow more spectators especially children watch matches in person. However, what is of more importance to him is more parents being able to take in their childrens’ games.
“I would first love to see more adults being allowed to go to kids’ games so that both parents as opposed to one is allowed to watch their children play. I think that’s a priority as a medic and a parent.
Secondly, obviously you’d love to get to see more kids getting to games. What developed our interests was being brought to games so if there was a possibility that you could increase the numbers, you’d love to get to that stage.”
Crowley admits he feels some trepidation ahead of working with Brian Cody’s Kilkenny senior panel for a 20th season — the Cats face Dublin or Laois in a Leinster semi-final on Halloween weekend.
“The biggest challenge is realising you can only control what you can control. In fairness, the Kilkenny County Board have done an amount of work to control the controllables. The biggest concern for me is if there is a positive case of Covid and you’re due to play a match how are we going to manage that.
“When you can control thing it’s great but if a case of Covid happens and it’s at the wrong time of the week, that’s what worries me. In fairness to the GAA nationally, they’ve done an amount of work. Feargal McGill (GAA director of club, player and games administration) has done an amount of work in taking phone-calls and dealing with queries.”