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Games go-ahead a winner

Comment & Opinion

STRICT PROTOCOLS The GAA Championship is taking place under a set of stringent rules, including a rule that players must bring all their own personal belongings in a sealed container. Mayo players Matthew Ruane and Fionn McDonagh are seen on the sideline beside the Mayo players’ boxes ahead of the recent Allianz National Football League match between Galway and Mayo at Tuam Stadium. Pic: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

GAA championship will provide welcome respite during latest lockdown

THE Government has failed to cover itself in glory with their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic since last March, but the decision to allow the 2020 GAA championships to proceed was the correct one – despite various attempts by some quarters to vilify the go-ahead.
Moving to Level 5 in the depths of winter was never going to be an easy decision, and deciding what businesses and activities could continue during this six-week period was always going to court controversy.
At the end of the day, what the Government is aiming to do is restrict the movement of the general public throughout the six-week period, with the aim of to driving down the numbers of Covid-19 cases. This was what led them to deciding that places like golf courses and gyms should close.
On the face of it, it does seem very harsh that a few friends can’t meet up for a round of golf outdoor while social distancing, but the reality is there are close to 400 golf courses on this island and allowing them to open would have led to a lot of movement, even allowing for the five kilometre restrictions.
The same also applies to gyms. There are now hundreds of gyms right across the country and allowing them to open would lead to every member trying to utilise their facility, probably even more often with little else for doing.
Of course, it is abundantly true that there is substantial movement of people when a GAA championship match is taking place, but there are very stringent measures in place in order for the games to go-ahead, and so far they have been adhered to very successfully.
The argument has been trotted out that the reason the championship got the go-ahead is because the GAA is ‘all powerful’ and has a hold over decision makers.
However, the Taoiseach has explained that the decision was taken in good faith as it affects, in a positive way, a substantial amount of the population.
There is a GAA pitch in almost every single community in this country, and the support for the inter-county game is huge. For the next five weekends, households and families around the country will gather around their TV and radios as the football and hurling championships unfold, providing a much-needed distraction in the battle against Covid-19.
The games also provide some much-needed live material for all our national and local media to report on, while previewing games and interviewing those involved will also provide fresh material for many readers and viewers during the month of November.
Mayo get their 2020 championship season underway next Sunday in Carrick-on-Shannon, having already provided their supporters with the usual rollercoaster of emotions over the last fortnight. The spectacular performance against Galway in Tuam was very much put into context on Sunday when Tyrone came to MacHale Park and relegated Mayo to Division Two of the NFL for the first time in 23 years, so again we head into the championship very much uncertain of how good this Mayo team actually is.
Beating both Roscommon and Galway in the Connacht Championship would be a huge achievement for James Horan, and if this can be done then anything is possible when only four teams will be left in the championship.
For now, that scenario is a long way off, but thankfully we have some big occasions to look forward too, and those occasions should make it that bit easier on everyone to get to December 1 with renewed optimism about enjoying a close-to-normal Christmas.

ILH 40084-21-02 Hastings Benefit MPU v4