Louth County Board chairman and Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick has called for the GAA to postpone the inter-county season.
Former Fine Gael member Fitzpatrick, whose senior county footballers travel to Cork today where they hope a win will help them avoid relegation from Division 3, believes the trip is not a safe one to make as Covid-19 cases rise across the island.
“I’m going to get trouble for this but for the last number of weeks I have raised concerns with Croke Park. I think all the National League and Championship games should be called off for the simple reason that the virus is out of control.
“For the last three meetings of the county chairpersons, I have called for the National League games to be played at neutral venues at least. I’m just very concerned with the distances that are being travelled by teams this weekend.
“Last Thursday week, we had a county chairpersons meeting and I pleaded again with Croke Park for the games not to go ahead at the home venues. Louth are leaving Dundalk at 8:30am in the morning for the game in Cork that is at 4pm. They’re coming straight back afterwards.
“You’re talking 10 hours or more of travel together. They’re stopping in Semple Stadium on the way down to get something to eat and then eating again in Cork after the game.
Former Louth manager Fitzpatrick says it stands out that the GAA are not calling off games while other sports or teams are suspending activities.
“In fairness to the CMO (chief medical officer) Tony Holohan he has recommended we lock up for the next four to six weeks. I think the Government is going to have to deal with the man because he seems to be talking a lot of sense.
“Look at Fermanagh and you have to suspect nearly every team in the National League has a case of it. Look at Shamrock Rovers postponing games because of cases. We’re calling nothing off.”
Where Fitzpatrick doesn’t agree with Holohan is making an exception for elite sport, senior inter-county Gaelic games and horse racing in Level 5. Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said on Thursday it would not be possible for Championship to be played at such a high level of restriction.
“I have grandchildren and if you’re not able to visit your own family I don’t see any reason why sports should be able to go ahead,” remarks Fitzpatrick.