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"We should be urging less caution" | Colm O'Rourke on GAA clubs debate

Former Meath footballer Colm O'Rourke has called on the GAA to open up club grounds around the co...


"We should be urging less caution" | Colm O'Rourke on GAA clubs debate

Former Meath footballer Colm O'Rourke has called on the GAA to open up club grounds around the country in a "controlled manner" for young people.

Two weeks ago the GAA president John Horan stated his belief that there was unlikely to be any GAA matches while social distancing, to help stop the spread of coronavirus, is in place.

O'Rourke was speaking this morning on Newstalk's - On The Record and was optimistic that there could be All-Ireland Championship action before the end of the summer.

"I would hope that there would be [senior inter-county matches] by late summer," said O'Rourke.

"I think that the date of October is much too late. I hope that we will see action in August at the latest."

Horan also said that the decision to keep clubs closed until at least July 20 was so as not to heap pressure on club volunteers with the responsibility of enforcing the government's Covid-19 guidelines.

O'Rourke admitted to being disappointed with Horan's views on how gaelic games should return from the enforced shutdown.

"I was hoping John Horan would say something different but the only thing I can see is he is saying that, but he has now brought together a medical committee to give him further advice," said O'Rourke.

"I would hope that the medical committee will soon report back to him and say that he should be opening GAA grounds.

"Particularly for young people because I think the rate of infection under-15 is less than two per cent and I think that young people should be out playing at the moment.

"I think it would be possible to frame different types of, maybe five-a-side games, where you would have blocking but no tackling.

"Maybe GAA grounds could open up play for ten or fifteen minutes a half for ten [players], move them out and move in another group.

"Then you have the whole issue where you have walking tracks around grounds which are closed, forcing older people on the road to walk.

"I think it's a blunt instrument we have at the moment. I would certainly think that GAA pitches should be open in a controlled manner."

Elaborating on the point of senior citizens unable to avail of the walking tracks around GAA pitches, O'Rourke insisted that it would be "quite safe" for older people to use them.

"I was at a club the other night and two older people walked past the gate of the club where there was a beautiful walking track available and they were walking on a very busy road," added O'Rourke.

"I just thought to myself, this is very silly.

"I know that John Horan has made the point that if he opened up walking tracks in Dublin, it would be very, very difficult to control them but I think so-be-it.

"I think we should be urging less caution, not more, and I think young people, in many cases in parts of Dublin, social distancing seems to have gone out the window with them.

"I think it would be much better from a GAA point of view to get them back playing in small numbers.

"The big concern for me would be, a lot of these people won't bother their head going back at all if they're shut out for a long time."

O'Rourke is concerned that the longer young GAA club members are out of action, the chances of them not returning to train or play will increase.

Young adults are at risk too and this has been documented by the John Hopkins University and Hospital which has been at the forefront of gathering Covid-19 data.

However, O'Rourke believes that it is up to the individual to make their own decision to return if they have the option.

"I would hope that the medical committee are reporting within the GAA to John Horan, telling him straight away [to] get the facilities open, for young people," said O'Rourke.

"I think that because the statistics show that they are less infectious than any other group, that's the group that we need to get back playing most and get them away from sitting at home on devices. Get them back playing.

"There will be a percentage who will say, 'I don't want to play because I'm afraid to go home. I'm living with elderly parents or grandparents and I'm not taking a chance'.

"That's fine but leave the option open for all the other people."

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Colm O'rourke GAA John Horan Meath GAA