GAA Football

GAA president John Horan: Limited crowds will be at games - if they go ahead

GAA president John Horan says Covid-19 testing remains an option for inter-county players, but couldn't be rolled out across the Association
Neil Loughran

IF players are allowed back on to the field to compete in Gaelic Games this year, it will not be behind closed doors insists GAA president John Horan.

Speaking on The Sunday Game last night, Horan dismissed the idea that games would be played in empty grounds – although he stressed that the immediate concern of the Association was “the players on the pitch”.

“If it's safe enough for the players to be in close contact on the pitch, then it's safe enough to have a certain number of people gathering in the ground itself. Crowds gathering in that situation will probably come before we have contact sport.

“Our concern has to be the players on the pitch – their families, their work colleagues. They are all amateurs. We cannot risk anybody's health.”

The issue of social distancing - and how that is to be enforced depending on how the pandemic continues to develop through the summer months - will be decisive, and Horan expressed doubt over whether any sport could take place if such restrictions remained.

“I can't see it happening because if social distancing is a priority to deal with this pandemic; I don't know how we can play a contact sport, and that is what Gaelic Games is.

“I would have a concern putting people into contact sport and then returning to their families.”

Horan admitted that, although dates of July 20 (club) and October (inter-county) were given for a provisional return to action in a GAA statement last week, it is still far from certain that any Championship action will take place in 2020.

On the issue of potential Covid-19 testing, the GAA president said that while it remained an option at inter-county level, it couldn't be rolled out across the board.

“It's something that will be discussed among our advisory group but certainly it's not something we could do as a blanket across the organisation.

“To get into the operation of testing players would prove extremely expensive, so I think we have to be beyond that because it had already been said that if sporting organisations want to take on the testing of players, they'll have to fund it themselves.”

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