GAA decision was somewhat drastic, says Peter Canavan

Peter Canavan feels the GAA’s decision to halt all GAA club matches was “somewhat drastic”.

On Monday morning, a directive came from Croke Park for all counties in Ireland to postpone all club matches until further notice, citing “post-match celebrations and a lack of social distancing at certain events” as an issue.

On Inside The Game, Peter Canavan was asked if the GAA had any other option.

“I think they did,” said the Tyrone native. “Acknowledging that something had to be done, and once again you have to commend the GAA on how swift and decisive the action was, but in my opinion it is somewhat drastic. Yes there has been a lot of festivities and celebration after games. Guidelines and rules have been broken in some counties, absolutely. The crowds that have been at games, the social distancing within those grounds have not been good enough.

“But John Horan admitted himself, it wasn’t the actual playing of the games that was the problem. It was what went on beyond that and on the fringes. So why penalise everybody? And the ones that are going to suffer here aren’t just adult [players].

“And bear in mind in a lot of counties, competitions are coming towards the closing stages. There’s a lot of semi-finals, finals coming up. Even under-age, there are hundreds of kids looking forward to finals, be it minor or juvenile level.

“I think if we had have gotten a week’s grace, if the message had gone out to the clubs ‘you’ve got a week to finish off the competitions’, and if the problems are with crowds and numbers, then play those games behind closed doors.

“I just think that everybody is being punished for the few that have stepped out of line. And, in particular, I’m teaching in school and I can see what the games have meant to our youngsters in recent weeks and recent months. The positivity that it has brought, and in terms of physical and mental wellbeing, our games have been invaluable. That has just been brought to a sudden end, and that’s unfortunate.”

‘It had to be done’

Meanwhile, Kieran Donaghy believes the GAA made the correct decision.

“It had to be done, because we couldn’t have the scenes that were witnessed over the weekend,” said the former Kerry star.

“But I also see it from another point of view that if a county team wins a provincial championship that hasn’t won one in a while, or if a team wins an All-Ireland, it’s very hard to see when the team comes home with the Sam Maguire, or whatever cup they have won, that there isn’t going to be similar scenes and jubilation.

“It’s a hard one to patrol. I think the clubs have the sense to tell people not to go out celebrating the win, go home, celebrate with their families at home and keep everything in-house.

“It’s very hard emotionally when you win a county championship, and people can’t be at the games so they’re probably watching it on a stream, maybe in the local pub.

“And then the game finishes, and their team has one. If there’s a long gap, it’s very hard for people to control their emotions, when they meet families and loved ones, [after they] have been playing and training and trying to win this.”

‘Club return really brought the community together’

Former Mayo star Andy Moran highlighted the sense of camaraderie that came with the return of club GAA since June.

“We’ve seen in other sports, when Liverpool won the Premier League, there was big celebrations in Liverpool,” Moran said.

“In the situation where club teams have brought communities together, I’ve seen it in our own club, 40, 50 guys up training, it really brought the community together. If we were in a county final this week and it was pulled, it would have been very difficult to keep the community going, and keep rural Ireland moving.

“I totally agree with Peter. Yes – pull them, but give them the seven-to-10 days’ grace where we can get the games played.”

Watch the full discussion on Inside The Game at 9pm Wednesday on Sky Sports Mix.

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