‘Accepted too easily’ – GAA need explanation over loss of Level 5 status

CPA CHAIRMAN MICHEÁL Briody says the decision to remove inter-county GAA from Level 5 exemption was ‘accepted too easily,’ but adds that the association is in a difficult position in relation to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Government informed the GAA of the move last week while it was also announced that there will be no Gaelic Games activity until “Easter at the earliest.”

Minister for State of Sport Jack Chambers later explained that the GAA’s exemption status as an elite sport concluded at the end of the 2020 championship, with GAA president John Horan also clarifying that there was an issue over GAA players operating in ‘bubbles.’

“I would say [it] was accepted too easily and it really restricts what can be done with the overall amount of time that’s there for the GAA,” Briody told The42 today when asked for a comment about the GAA’s response to the news.

“I think the GAA are within their rights to make representation and ask why that is because as far as we’re aware, there were no cases from last year of clusters within inter-county teams that haven’t been in other elite sports from time to time.

“In fairness, they’re being guided by NPHET and they have their own Covid advisory. They’re doing it right in that they’re following medical [and] public advice. I do think there’s a small bit there that they eased up too much on that and need to make stronger representation as regards the elite category.

“It’s very difficult and I do have a lot of sympathy for them. It’s not for us to stand up and say we no a better way. At the moment they’ve got to follow public advice primarily.”

With no clear starting point in sight for the 2021 season, there is plenty of ongoing debate regarding the format that should be put in place this year.

A split season model was introduced in 2020, with club competitions being played off first before the inter-county games followed later in the year.

Many suspect that this will be repeated in 2021 while the GAA says it remains their intention to complete the inter-county league and championship this year.

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The club championships finished up at the county final stage last year and Briody argues that the inter-county schedule should be completed first this time to give the club competition a better chance of reaching provincial and All-Ireland stages in 2021.

“I think allowing inter-county first is the most sensible approach,” he says.

“The only thing is it would have to be down to Level 2 before we have club season. So we can all sit here and say, ‘Club scene [should] go back first.’

“But Tony Holohan and NPHET might not be allowing that. Where does that leave us then? So that’s the dichotomy.

“I do understand that it is a difficult one because you have to haul club players and club people back. There’s a major money issue with running the inter-county season with no crowds.

“I fully appreciate that and that is an issue and all the money filters down to each county and each club so it impacts everyone and we can probably see the financial strategy laid bare that the GAA give it all back.

“If you run club first you won’t get the provincial or All-Ireland club season run. If you were to do that, you only have a small amount of players involved in that so that would make sense [to do] at the end of the season.”

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