Tuesday, April 21, 2020

By Kieran Murphy
CARLOW senior hurling manager Colm Bonnar has said there is huge potential for difficulties if the GAA decides to organise championships at any level in the coming months.
“Realistically, it is very hard to see anything happening,” Bonnar has told The Nationalist. “Because they have no cure for the coronavirus, social distancing will be a big part of what we are about for the foreseeable future. It will be well into July or August. How can you make plans now?” he said.

Carlow senior hurling manager Colm Bonnar says we will have to live by social distancing guidelines for some time to come

“For instance if you are a Cork or Tipperary team and one of the players get Covid-19, then the whole team is closed down for a fortnight. What do you do?”
Bonnar says those at the coalface have been making good decisions to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and it would be disappointing to make decisions which could cause the rate of transmission of the virus to increase.
“Ireland has been very lucky with the restrictions being put in place but it will be slow about getting businesses and the economy up and running. The last thing on their mind will be sport and getting large groups of people together. Even club games; if someone in your club team gets it, what does that do to your championship?” he said.
Last week GAA director general Tom Ryan estimated the cancellation of the intercounty championship could see the GAA lose out on €60 million which is a significant portion of last year’s entire revenue of €73 million.
On Friday, in response to the current situation the GAA held a special congress via teleconference. The congress involved one delegate from every county plus representatives from all strands of the GAA including handball, education and overseas delegates. Overall 67 officers were invited to discuss the provision of an interim governance structure for the association in the current emergency situation.
The final outcome gave the GAA Management Committee powers to make decisions in the current climate without reverting to Congress. After 12 weeks this will be reviewed.
No doubt one of the biggest discussion points for the committee in the weeks ahead will circle around whether it is feasible to run intercounty and club championships.
The Carlow hurlers communicate with the management team through Whatsapp and other social media channels, but the manager says it isn’t easy to manage the players’ physical workload during this time of lockdown.
“We are all trying to do something. A county hurler will do more
than what I would do, what you would do. That is the nature of the beast,” explained Bonnar.
Carlow senior football manager Turlough O’Brien said it is important that players operate with some level of autonomy during this time.
“We gave them all programmes to do but, to be honest, I see the need to give them space for themselves and their families. I know they are all doing their work and that is all you can expect them to do,” O’Brien said.

Turlough O’Brien: ‘you miss the camaraderie’

He empathised with those who will be making decisions which will impact on GAA matters nationwide.
“To be fair to the people who make the decision, they are in a very difficult position. They need to be allowed time and space to make the decision. They are subject to government policies. We have to respect that and we can’t put pressure on them. They have to be given time to assess developments.
“I really don’t envy any administrator at club, county and national level because we are all facing very difficult situations with our clubs and counties.
“Clubs are all closed down and are facing loses with their bars not providing a source of income. There is no gate money coming in at intercounty level. There is a big financial shortfall going to occur for everybody. It is an amateur organisation and a big headache for the GAA,” maintained O’Brien.
“It is the talking point in every parish come the summer time. The club championship and how the county will fare. It is one organisation where young and old are so involved. You miss the camaraderie.”

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