CARBERY senior football manager Tim Buckley has encouraged GAA chiefs to explore the possibility of allowing players train in supervised groups at GAA pitches ahead of July 20th.
While the GAA has instructed all clubs and counties to keep their pitches closed until July 20th, when phase four of the easing of restrictions kicks in, Buckley believes that pitches could be utilised for supervised training ahead of that date.
‘Since Monday and until June 9th, and under HSE guidelines, people are allowed gather in groups of no more than four where social distancing can be maintained,’ Buckley explained.
‘You’ll see players finding whatever green area they can, within a five-kilometre radius of their home, to kick a ball about – but would it not be easier for the GAA to do that on a supervised basis?’
Buckley is proposing that GAA pitches are opened on a supervised basis with a time-sheet in place to keep track of who is training with who.
‘Let’s say, for example, that most GAA clubs in West Cork or throughout Ireland average ten or 12 teams, from underage up. If there are three selectors on each team, that’s 30 volunteers who have signed up to help their club this season,’ Buckley explained.
‘Add to that the match volunteers that every club has, and remember that they can clear 300 or 400 out the gate in 15 minutes after a game and they have it down to a fine art.
‘If you can combine both those groups, and I’m betting that a good few are willing to supervise pitches, how about organising small groups of four to train at their GAA pitch but under the watchful eyes of the supervisors who are there to remind players about social distancing and also make sure that everyone sticks to the schedule.
‘Maybe open the pitches between 6pm and 9pm with a rota in place – and with supervisors there you will satisfy the safety aspect while it’s also providing a social outlet, too.
‘We have fantastic GAA facilities here in West Cork, fantastic people in every club and we all know how important sport is as an outlet for people. The GAA is a big family, clubs across West Cork have shown this with their fantastic fundraising initiatives in recent weeks, and this is another chance to pull together and show what we are capable of.’
The Carbery senior football manager, who is in weekly contact with his squad, says we should stop looking too far into the future and worrying about playing championship matches later in the year, but instead focus on the immediate future.
‘I tell our players not to worry about July or August, let’s look at the week ahead, and take it step by step,’ Buckley said.
‘Fellas are getting anxious, they want to play and they want to train, so that’s why I think it’s worth looking at the option of supervising small training sessions. If we start off small, we can iron out whatever kinks come up before the training groups are made bigger in the phases ahead.
‘Players will take on the responsibility too. When we’re talking about club’s adult teams we’re talking about adults who know why social distancing is important and they know they have to stick to the guidelines in place. Nobody wants to take a step backwards with this phased return, we all have responsibilities here, and if we can progress through this phase it might take us a step closer to playing.
‘The objection will be that you could end up having more than groups of four, but that’s where your supervisors come in. The alternative is that fellas will go into parks and pitches – but why not allow our GAA grounds to be used by groups of four once it is supervised?’
‘We should certainly be looking to see if this can be done and how it could look.
‘Let’s get our players back on the pitch, but in a supervised environment, and surely that’s safer then fellas striking off on their own to kick a ball or have a puckaround.’