LOGISTICS Padraic Carolan at the Covid test site.
THE GAA might be left with no option but to play all club and inter-county matches behind closed doors in the weeks and months ahead, according to a senior HSE official.
Padraic Carolan, who is the Senior Administrative Officer with the Primary Care/HSE West, as well as the Children’s Officer for Mayo GAA, believes that ‘the logistical difficulties’ associated with social distancing guidelines could spell the end of crowds attending matches this year.
The Government announced last Wednesday that phase four of the roadmap to relax Covid-19 restrictions had been delayed from July 20 for at least three more weeks.
One of the consequences of this decision is that a maximum of 200 people (which includes participants, team officials, match officials, media etc) will be allowed to attend outdoor events until at least August 10.
At a local level this means that the first two rounds of the Mayo senior, intermediate and junior club football championships, as well as the first round of the hurling championship next Friday evening, would be played in front of approximately 80 to 100 supporters.
“Maybe [it will have to be] a case similar to many sports around the world, we just have to play the games behind closed doors. It might be the easiest solution,” Carolan told The Mayo News.
“There’s no easy answer to the question, and it could cause friction in clubs if there’s a limited number of tickets available [for supporters]. How can a club chairman or secretary determine who gets them?
“And then you have the associated issue of Cairde Mhaigh Eo tickets, so it might be a case that we should play the games, and stream as many as possible.
“That might well be what happens with inter-county too,” he added. “The logistical difficulties are the problem, and we haven’t seen any sport in Western Europe played in front of crowds yet.
“It’s going to be very difficult for the GAA to overcome that in such a short period of time.
“It’s not so much fitting 10,000 people in Croke Park while social distancing, it’s the logistics of getting them in and out while factoring in shops, toilets, walkways etc. That’s what causes the difficulty,” added Carolan, who is a member of Parke GAA club and was responsible for the setting up of the Covid-19 test site centre at MacHale Park, along with test sites in Galway and Roscommon.