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Highlights on Off The Ball

As inter-county championship hangs by a thread - it's time for a decision

The GAA is facing into a very critical juncture, with a decision needed over the future of the in...

As inter-county championship h...

As inter-county championship hangs by a thread - it's time for a decision

The GAA is facing into a very critical juncture, with a decision needed over the future of the inter-county season within the next couple of weeks.

That was the view of Kerry GAA chairman Tim Murphy on OTB AM this morning, and it echoes a wider sentiment within the organisation.

GAA president John Horan spoke at the weekend about not wanting to "walk blindly" into an inter-county championship, and the latest restrictions removing the chance to have fans at matches will only add to the uncertainty.

So would we be better off cancelling the championship now and allow teams the time off, with a return when spectators are (hopefully) allowed in 2021?

The stronger argument perhaps lies with proceeding as now suggested, with only those necessary for matches present at the grounds.

The mental health benefits of having sport to watch cannot be understated, and at least having games on television would be a worthwhile exercise to keep the country occupied.

Kerry chairman Murphy says he wants to see inter-county competition continue, but a decision must be made in the next fortnight.

"I would say, if you take the club scene first, certainly the streaming has gone extremely well. It was our first experience of streaming games to any level.

"The challenge for inter-county is two-fold. First of all there's the whole area of the players and the health issue, we'll take guidance from NPHET and obviously the government on that.

"The second issue is the financial nature of inter-county - when you take 26 counties in the Republic and the six in Northern Ireland, and the cost of preparing those 32 teams relative to what the TV rights bring in, that exercise needs to be done.

"I think for the betterment of society and to give people hope, it would be very important in our opinion for the inter-county scene to continue, albeit behind closed doors.

"But at least people could watch it on TV, and I just hope that does happen. In many ways this is outside the GAA's control - it'll be determined by factors that we don't have control over.

"What we're trying to do is control what we can control, and it's up to others to decide is that a good course to take and a safe course to take.

"I would imagine that decision will be made, certainly in the next fortnight. It'll have to be made the first week of September in advance of any inter-county training resuming."

Ger Gilroy spoke on OTB AM about how the GAA needn't feel they are being specifically targeted in relation to the latest restrictions.

"All of the arguments people are making about the big venues, even the John Horan point about the 20,000 [fitting into Croke Park safely], it was never the 20,000 sitting in the stadium.

"It was how people are getting there beforehand, it was how people are getting out afterwards. We know that there club teams in all sports going for drinks outdoors maybe, or maybe they're having parties.

"My issue here is that it's not actually a GAA issue. They feel that they are somehow being targeted, but that's not the case.

"I actually don't think the government produced a fully thought-out plan yesterday. There was no coherence. The performance of the Taoiseach, and the Health Minister, and Eamon Ryan in the press conference was abysmal.

"It gave me no confidence that they were in charge of their briefs, and that they had thought through a consistent plan, given that this has been coming for ages.

"Where is the Minister for Education? We're two-and-a -alf weeks away from a million kids going back to school, not sight nor sound from her at any point throughout all this.

"That's where people have no faith in it. The GAA are not being targeted separately. This is the same for the FAI, and the same for the IRFU, and the same for everybody."

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Coronavirus Covid-19 GAA Inter-County John Horan Tim Murphy