Today’s All-Ireland senior hurling championship launch will be staged virtually as a result of pressure from participating counties.
It had been the GAA’s intention to organise the event in Holycross in Tipperary, where president Larry McCarthy was to be in attendance. Photographs were due to be taken at Holycross Abbey before the series was launched at the Holycross-Ballycahill club when interviews were due to take place.
However, at least two of the six remaining counties were not comfortable with sending their players, with one of them emphasising Covid Delta variant concerns.
Instead, Seán Finn (Limerick), Adrian Mullen (Kilkenny), Ronan Maher (Tipperary), Paddy Smyth (Dublin), Tim O’Mahony (Cork), and Stephen Bennett (Waterford) will be interviewed in video conferences and photographs are to be taken in each of their respective counties.
While Limerick, Cork, and Waterford have all hosted in-person media events in recent weeks, Tipperary’s briefings have continued to hold theirs virtually, while neither Dublin nor Kilkenny have arranged any non-commercial, game-specific press conferences.
After Dublin lost four players to a positive Covid case the morning of the Leinster final last Saturday week, Kilkenny manager Brian Cody admitted it had a negative impact on Dublin’s performance and expressed worry about a similar scenario affecting his team.
“You can be very unlucky and get the virus but it’s the close contact situation that really can cripple a team. The responsibility is on everybody concerned to be totally vigilant and you can still have hard luck so hopefully over the next few weeks it will go well for all teams because it is so important to continue on playing sport.
“What’s there is so, so serious. Obviously, we’re getting closer to the end game if you like but now it’s just attacking us again. There is a huge responsibility on everybody to be very, very careful.
“The players are very, very responsible, very, very mature and very, very conscious of the dangers of it. You can do absolutely everything really, really well and still be in hard luck but hopefully that situation is not going to hit teams.”
Dublin manager Mattie Kenny hopes to have Cian O’Callaghan, Ronan Hayes, Fergal Whitley and Oisín O’Rourke back in training early this week ahead of facing Cork in Saturday’s All-Ireland quarter-final in Thurles. It is understood the quartet travel to training together, Hayes, Whitley, and O’Rourke all Kilmacud Crokes players and O’Callaghan lining out for nearby Cuala.