GAA Football

Almost all of Tyrone's squad out of isolation before last Sunday

The Irish News understands that all but a small handful of the Tyrone squad were still in their isolation period by the original date of their All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry last Sunday, August 15. Picture by Philip Walsh

ALL but a small few of Tyrone’s squad were out of isolation on the original date for the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry last Sunday, The Irish News understands.

While there is no indication that all would have been fit to play the game last weekend, there was nothing precluding players who did not exhibit symptoms and whose isolation period had finished from doing so.

It's understood that all the isolation period had finished for all but around five players.

Tyrone joint-manager Feargal Logan had said on Sunday that 17 players had tested positive, one of whom had to be hospitalised.

It is unclear exactly how many are, or have been, symptomatic.

The Red Hands had requested a two-week delay to the game soon after it emerged that a further Covid-19 outbreak had hit the squad after the Ulster final victory over Monaghan.

The game was pushed back by a week and refixed for this Saturday, August 21, but Tyrone made a statement early on Saturday afternoon indicating that they would not be fielding if the game went ahead on that date.

The GAA and the three counties remaining in the All-Ireland series were locked in talks on Sunday which resulted in another seven-day delay being agreed.

It’s understood that Kerry’s reluctant willingness to agree rather than going straight to the All-Ireland final without a game was the most significant factor in the negotiations.

The GAA was unlikely to budge had Mayo and Kerry not agreed with the proposals put forward, but with Kerry not wanting to take the chance on Tyrone backing up their claim that they would not field next Saturday, the Kingdom agreed to move the game to August 28.

Meanwhile, Tyrone’s players will also have to be pressed straight back into club action a week after their inter-county campaign ends if the club season is to have any chance of finishing by mid-December.

Divisions One and Two in the county have been paused since July 30 after clubs chose at the start of the season to include promotion and relegation, while agreeing to play nine games without county players and eight with them.

Club players will have already been idle for a month without a game, and no games will be played until after Tyrone’s campaign finishes, meaning a potential seven-week gap between games if they reach the All-Ireland final.

Their club championship also seems destined to be played off on consecutive weekends as the reality of the loss of extra weekends bites into the club game.

Original plans to begin in late September or early October and allow clubs two weeks between games will almost certainly have to be scrapped.

Ulster Council had already bought the Red Hands’ club champions two weeks by excluding them from the preliminary round for the Ulster Club SFC and IFC, for which the draws were made last week.

The senior and intermediate winners in Tyrone will not be in provincial action until the weekend of December 4/5.

Because of the increase to 18 teams in this year’s senior grade in Tyrone, they now need a minimum of five weekends rather than four to run it off.

If Tyrone were to lose to Kerry and play their eight club league games and five championship rounds consecutively beginning seven days after the All-Ireland semi-final, it would allow everything to be squeezed in just in time.

Were the Red Hands to reach the All-Ireland final, it would mean the club leagues would not be able to finish until after the championship.

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GAA Football