GAA Football

Post-coronavirus recession could hit GAA players warns Ryan McMenamin

With a recession expected to hit once the world eventually emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, Fermanagh boss Ryan McMenamin expects it to take a toll on the GAA's playing pool. Picture by Cliff Donaldson
Neil Loughran

FERMANAGH boss Ryan McMenamin fears counties across Ireland – including the Erne County - could be left facing a player exodus in the wake of an expected post-coronavirus recession.

Tough economic times are anticipated once the world emerges from the grip of the pandemic, with the GAA and its members sure to feel the force of the new financial reality that awaits.

And McMenamin admits it is “a real situation” that could take a considerable toll on county panels across the country.

“We’ve already lost Lee [Cullen], he’s in Australia,” said the three-time All-Ireland winner.

“It’s a real situation for most counties, probably outside the top eight, and especially the more rural counties where there mightn’t be as many employment opportunities.

“It’s looking like there is going to be a recession so that probably will be more of a factor. If a young fella has to travel abroad for work, that’s his livelihood. He’ll have more years not playing football than playing, so sometimes you have to look after number one.”

Following John Horan’s comments last week, it remains to be seen whether or not an All-Ireland Championship will be able to take place this year.

The GAA president claimed he “can’t see it happening” if social distancing policies remain in place, despite the Association issuing a statement days earlier stating its intention to play an inter-county Championship later in the year, with club activity coming first.

And the Erne boss admits he has concerns about the extent of the financial toll safety requirements could take on counties already feeling the pinch.

“If Fermanagh were travelling to Down, do we take two buses? In the National League, we still had to play Clare, and if they did want to see out the League, we would probably have to take two buses and book a separate room for each player.

“Is it fair Fermanagh have to stump up for that? The potential financial repercussions could be serious. Even travelling to the Championship matches, do players travel together or by themselves in cars?

“For any longer journeys further into the competition, you wonder. It all has to be thrashed out - it’s a fluid enough situation. As it stands we’ve been told October so we’ll see what happens from there.

“There was a wee bit of mixed messages coming from Croke Park, after you were being told there could be football come August and October. John was probably being practical about the thing and it just depends on the time-frame.

“He might not be too far away from the mark. You rule nothing in or nothing out at this stage. County managers have to realise that if we do get back, there’s going to be a two month window for the clubs, which is only right.

“So while I could see us back training in October, can I see a Championship starting in October? I can’t.”

Already some managers have questioned the wisdom of the GAA's decision to suspend inter-county training until further notice.

And McMenamin admits managers and panels have no option but to “be patient”.

“At the minute we’re happy enough to go along with the rules – they’re there for a reason.

“If the county game isn’t going to get going until October, you have no choice but to be patient.

The GAA has taken the lead on a lot of things from the get-go, by closing the grounds they’ve probably taken a lot of strain off people within the clubs because people do want to get in and kicking about.

“If the R rating goes down, you’d like to think the GAA will review that, but at the minute it probably keeps everyone safe, and keeps everyone at ease.”

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