GAA Football

Ulster chief Brian McAvoy welcomes extended panel attendance

Darren Gleeson would love to see some of players' family members attend their Joe McDonagh final on December 13 Picture: Seamus Loughran.

ULSTER Council chief Brian McAvoy has welcomed the Irish Government’s decision to allow entire GAA panels to attend games under the new Level Three Covid19 restrictions protocol.

Yesterday, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People and Waterford native Mary Butler TD announced the decision.

Previously, it was only match-day squads that were allowed to attend games – much to the chagrin of managers all around the country.

“The fact that the south is coming out of Level Five… so it’ll be good particularly for All-Ireland finals – even for the semi-finals this weekend if possible,” said McAvoy.

On the prospect of a couple of family members per player being allowed to attend games, McAvoy noted: “The Irish Government still hasn’t signed off on behind-closed-doors policy. I think you could make a much stronger case for extended panel members."

After reaching the Joe McDonagh final on Saturday by beating Meath, Antrim hurling boss Darren Gleeson made an impassioned appeal to the powers-that-be to allow all panel members to attend the December 13 showpiece at Croke Park.

The Tipp native, however, stopped short of supporting calls to allow a couple of family members to attend their game against Kerry at headquarters – but added it would be “absolutely fantastic” if it could happen.

“You can bring 38 people in your group, and you need your medical people in that, your county board officials, your management and selectors,” Gleeson said.

“We’d nearly prefer to be at home and to have the boys who have trained and slogged all year. We carry a small enough panel.

“We’ve 32 and if any of them weren’t there I’d be personally devastated for them. I think it’s only fair and right that they are there, first of all, and I think their families could live it once they know the players will be there.

“And if the GAA and the authorities look at trying to get a few family members there on the day that would be absolutely fantastic. It’s not one to be sidestepped.

“The people that are doing the hard work they should be rewarded and should be with their team-mates on the day.”

Meanwhile, the GAA and GPA have reached a new four-year deal following lengthy negotiations between the parties.

The GPA will still receive 15 per cent of net commercial share of income while expenses incurred by players will be covered in a separate players’ charter that will be thrashed out in 2021.

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