The new Government’s announcement yesterday evening that elements of Phase 4 of the Covid-19 reopening programme were being put on hold has come as a bit of a reality check.
Within the GAA world, the measure that’s of most concern is the decision not to proceed for now with lifting the maximum allowable number for mass gatherings from 200 to 500. The lower number will remain in place for a few weeks more, by which time club Championships in counties across the country are planned to be in full swing.
The announcement is a setback for the GAA and officials within Mayo GAA have readily admitted as much. In a piece by Mike Finnerty in the Mayo News (here) Mayo GAA PRO Paul Cunnane described the news as “a huge blow” but he added that “we have to respect the public health guidelines that are there.”
Match-going supporters are going to feel the change of plans fairly clearly. Players, backroom teams and officials all count towards the 200 number that would be allowed to attend any game and when you add all these up the total is already close to 100. That means that little more than 100 supporters will be able to get to see any live action at first hand, while the current limit stays in place.
In Mike’s piece it’s stated that increased streaming of matches may now be looked at, with the possibility that some Championship fixtures within the county might be broadcast on TG4 or RTÉ as well. Such a development could well be part of the new normal for us, at least for the next while.
How the return to play in 2020 – either at club or county level – is going to pan out is still very much an open question. The incidents where club players have tested positive shows the fragility of plans to play a load of matches in a very short timescale. Turkey and Sam might make for a good tagline but will we see this happen in practice? It’s difficult to be certain that we will.
The advisability or otherwise of a return to play in 2020 was captured well in a thoughtful piece in yesterday’s Irish Examiner by Michael Moynihan – that’s here.
It’s worth all of us stopping to pause and consider the question posed so starkly in that piece, i.e. is a medal and a few matches worth a single death in the community? I think we all know the answer to that one. Sometimes there really is no way to escape the stark reality of this strange world we now inhabit.