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Behind closed doors — the straw that broke the camel’s back for inter-county season?

Shane Stapleton and Michael Verney discuss reports that the Government is set to put all sporting events behind closed doors, including GAA.

Shane Stapleton and Michael Verney give their reaction to reports that the Government is set to put all sporting events behind closed doors, including GAA.

“There seems to be a sense out there that the government wants to be seen to do something,” says Stapleton of the reaction online.

“Whether it’s the right thing or the wrong thing, that the worse thing you can do is sit on your hands and see how things play out… there does feel like there’s that sense of being seen to be doing something.”

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Michael Verney agreed, explaining how he and the natives of Offaly have certainly felt that already, given the lockdown locally in recent days.

“It (the expected announcement) is definitely not being met with any great positivity because people are seeing all the other things going on in life.

“Be it shops and be it indoor things, I’m sure you’re seeing on Snapchat and Instagram all these house parties going on, all these different things every weekend.

“Then you think 120 people aren’t let go watch a match while sitting big distances apart… it doesn’t really make much sense.

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“This could be the straw that broke the camel’s back for a lot of GAA people.

“We have gone by all the rules set out and everything that government have asked us to do, and it feels like we’re going backwards.

“This could be the straw that broke the camel’s back for the inter-county season this year when you think that naturally how worse things will get worse in the next few months with sicknesses that happens at those times of the year.

“It hasn’t been met with positivity with anyone I’ve seen.”

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Up to 200 people had been in attendance at matches in recent weeks — including players, backroom teams, media, officials, stewards and other volunteers required to stage matches — but that now looks set to be rolled back.

The GAA had in recent weeks lobbied for more 200 people to be granted access to games, but this was denied as NPHET [the National Public Health Emergency Team] advised the delaying of Phase 4 of the country’s reopening from lockdown.

Now, with the rising number of Covid-19 cases, the Government cabinet have today been meeting — with a number of measures set to be announced.

Many of those are to deal with the protection of people over the age of 70 and those with underlying conditions.

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There are also expected to be new powers for Gardai as the government looks to clamp down on house parties and other gatherings.

On August 4, GAA president John Horan had spoken of his disappointment at the government not allowing bigger crowds at Gaelic games matches at that stage.

“We don’t want our members becoming too despondent or disheartened,” he said at the time. “What’s important is that we have the games back and we keep them back and we continue to be vigilant and show leadership.

“This isn’t going as fast as we want but we’re still moving in the right direction.

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“We made a strong case to both the Government and NPHET around the use of our bigger stadia for crowds of up to 400 excluding the players.

“But, obviously, with the numbers turning in the last few days they felt they couldn’t accede to our request and we have to respect that decision.” 

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