"They’ll be living like hermits, I imagine" - county players relying on each other 11 months ago

"They’ll be living like hermits, I imagine" - county players relying on each other

Despite noticing a change in the national mood in recent days, Offaly GAA chairman Michael Duignan is adamant that the Championships can still go ahead.

A logistical nightmare is how he describes inter-county training and games in the current climate but Duignan feels that it will all be worthwhile if all stakeholders can work together to pull it off.

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There is a big onus and personal responsibility he feels, on county boards, players and management teams to give themselves the best possible chance of competing in the 2020 championships. His son Brian for example, has moved out of his college house in Dublin to reduce the risk of contracting the virus and bringing it into Offaly training with him.

"In Offaly last weekend, I met with the team doctor and we looked at the guidelines from the government and the GAA and we thought they probably weren’t even strict enough.

"So we closed our dining room, closed our dressing rooms, put up a marquee even though we have fantastic facilities there and we can abide by the guidelines we felt we would go that extra step. It’s very difficult, it’s changing daily and there are cases arriving on our table every day be it close contacts or positives cases.

"For the management teams and players, a logistical nightmare is the way I’d describe it trying to get everyone to training and get them away safely...But I think when we are sitting at home in November and December with the type of coverage we are going to have on TV or radio or streaming it will be massive for the people of Ireland if we can keep it going," he adds.

 

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"We have no positives cases in our senior camps, we had an underage player and that tracked back to a number of other players being deemed close contacts. So it’s tough going but I think I it is worth fighting for.

"If we look back at the end of December I think the difference playing these matches will make to the good of the country will be massive. And that’s my motivation to try and keep it going. It’s not easy. It’s going to be difficult. We are going to see squads like Wexford who are being tested at the moment. Fermanagh the position they are in is very unfortunate..."

Duignan however, feels that the League and the potential long distance travelling that it entails could have been avoided.

"There are teams travelling massive distances for matches which is not ideal but I think that will tighten up as the championship starts. The only thing maybe these league matches, maybe we should have kicked straight to the championships and get them going and on a week-by-week basis you reduce the teams that are playing and it will shorten.

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Travelling alone to training is key to keeping the virus at bay, according to the former All-Star.

"It’s going to be very difficult to keep cases out and it’s that message to get through to the players - you travel on your own even if you are the same club. I think the Irish soccer situation last week concentrated minds too on how the close contacts can affect you. Especially now when we are so close to the matches and if you are a close contact you are going to be out for 14 days and your championship could be over. I have a young myself in Dublin myself on the hurling panel, he’s moved back home again today and he will travel when he has a lecture just to try and stay away from it. But I think the mood is positive and the players are anxious to play.

"They’ll be living like hermits, I imagine. If you lose one player grand but it’s the close contact element of it that players have to be very careful of."

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