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Offaly ask GAA for exemption to play finals — Duignan reaction

Offaly wrote to the GAA asking for an exemption for their county hurling finals to be played this coming Sunday, which was denied

Offaly wrote to the GAA asking for an exemption for their county hurling finals to be played this coming Sunday, which chairman Michael Duignan explains was denied.

County chairman Michael Duignan says he is very disappointed that the GAA have denied Offaly’s request for an exemption to finish their hurling championships this coming weekend.

All club games have been suspended for the time being, with after-match celebrations and a lack of social distancing at matches contributing to the association’s decision.

Duignan explains that he made contact with GAA HQ and its president, John Horan, with a plan of how their hurling finals could be played.

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St Ryanagh’s were due to play Kilcormac-Killoughey in the senior decider, while two other games at lower grades were also due to be staged.

“We wanted one more week,” says the Faithful County chairman. “We had three hurling finals planned for next weekend. 

“Really, at the end of the day, players are the most important thing. I think sometimes we lose focus in the GAA because there’s so much else going on but it’s about providing games for players.

“To do all we’ve done and for all the work they’ve put in, to lose all that at short notice was a bitter pill to swallow.”

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The Club Players Association today pleaded with the association for clubs to be allowed finish their championships, stating: “At this time, in light of the GAA directive on Monday 5 October, we are pleading with the GAA management committee to allow outstanding adult championships to be completed behind closed doors.”

Given the issues seen in recent days — in Dungarvan, Blackrock, and elsewhere — Duignan accepts there are issues but explains that club championships should still be allowed to finish.

“I do. There have been a few breaches here and there, there’s no point saying there haven’t been. 

“In general, we would feel particularly in our own county that we have tried to do everything and the clubs have really bought in. 

“I was in contact with the GAA on Monday and in direct contact with John Horan on a couple of occasions on Monday. 

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“They are in a really difficult situation as well, they’re trying to look at the bigger picture.

“I think they could have waited… I think there was definitely a reprimand needed to certain sections and they could have issued a strong statement. I think you need sanctions as well.

“But to go back to your question, we wrote to Croke Park yesterday (Tuesday) morning officially looking for an exemption and we outlined our protocols, and our six clubs gave undertakings in writing that they would follow all guidelines — no team photos, no team huddles, no after-match functions. 

“We got all that together and sent it up but unfortunately we got our response yesterday that it wouldn’t be taking place. 

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“For the players, for it to be taken away… we wanted three hours, behind closed doors, with strict protocols in place, so we’re very disappointed,” he adds.

Click play on the video at the top of the page for more, as Duignan talks about keeping plates spinning as Offaly GAA chairman, the Durrow county final issue and Shane ‘Cake’ Curran’s protests, his thoughts on the GPA, and whether the inter-county season will go ahead.

Want more? Watch Johnny Pilkington reflect on his career with Offaly and Birr.

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