‘It is a player’s own choice if they want to take part or not’

June 16th, 2020 5:42 PM

By Ger McCarthy

Clonakilty's Thomas Clancy is challenged by O'Donovan Rossa's Kevin Davis during a 2019 Cork SFC round three game at Castlehaven.

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With GAA club championships scheduled to return at the end of July, GER McCARTHY checked in with a number of West Cork managers to get their thoughts on the latest developments


Micheál O’Sullivan (Carbery Rangers): ‘I believe that it would have been a downer not to play any football championship this year. If the powers-that-be believe it is safe to run a championship, then I would be all for it. I think returning to play championship games is what we are used to doing and what players are used to doing all their lives. It will take a good bit of organisation but then there is a lot of information contained in the GAA’s latest communication, so it is possible if everyone rows in. It is a player’s own choice, depending on their own circumstances, if they want to take part or not. We still don’t know what way the county board will organise the draw but, traditionally, championship was always knockout anyway, so they probably have to do that considering the circumstances we find ourselves in.’


Frankie Arundel (Munitir Bháire selector): ‘To be straight up about it, there is still a lot of confusion about what is happening and not happening. Every club is feeling the same way, we all want to get back playing but there is still not enough clarity about how that’s going to be achieved. GAA is a contact sport and fellas have to go home afterwards. We need better clarity and guidance from Croke Park, the HSE and the Government. Going out training in pods is fine but games are all players want in the summertime. Is it okay to fully engage in a contact sport at the end of July? The GAA have been very strong on this so far. No-one wants to put anyone else at risk having seen how bad things got with Covid-19 around the country. So we have to be absolutely confident that we can go out and shoulder a fella when the time comes.’


Flor O’Driscoll (Ilen Rovers): ‘First and foremost, it is great to see the GAA coming back. It’s great for all the people involved, and the country, as a sign of some sense of normality returning. Obviously, we are being open-minded but there are concerns, not just for the players but for everyone in our local community. Right now, we are just in a planning phase and finding out who can commit to playing (senior) depending on their family circumstances. No pressure will be put on anyone to come back. We have to make sure, for everyone in the club and not just the senior team, that we make things as safe as we possibly can before returning to training and then playing matches. You would miss the day-to-day involvement alright, having the lads back playing is what it is all about. There is a bit of trepidation about making sure everyone is safe when we return but overall this is a positive thing not just for the GAA but the local community as well.’


James McCarthy (Castlehaven): ‘The powers-that-be know better than us when it comes to the health side of things, but they are telling us it is safe to go back. I’d say everyone in the GAA will be delighted to go back out on the pitches again. If things do turn bad again, and hopefully not, at least the GAA has a target and some sort of a championship to work towards. To be fair, the GAA has been very strong off the pitch while all this has been going on. You only miss something when it is gone so at least players can meet up and have a kick around again which is very important. I would agree it is more of a level playing field now as every team will be going in with the same preparation. I think there will be a lot of tight games where a good free-taker might be needed to get you over the line.’


Denis Healy (Dohenys): ‘I can see why there is for and against going back to playing championship, even a reduced championship. If it can be safely done, then I think we should proceed with it. The fear is still there that if Covid-19 comes back then it could be next year again before any football is played. In terms of a reduced championship, it won’t be ideal. Players will need time to regain their sharpness before anything starts. On the positive side, it will level the playing field in each of the championships which is a good thing. Teams that would normally be putting in more of an effort haven’t had the chance to do that which will make things interesting. I am looking forward to going back because I have had to self-isolate due to a health problem. Everyone involved with Dohenys will be looking forward to going back.’


Martin Bohane (O’Donovan Rossa): ‘The HSE and the Government’s positive outlook (on emerging from Covid-19) means it’s a positive thing to have the GAA championships back. There are players training that have been training away on their own and now there is light at the end of the tunnel for them. In the circumstances, I think a reduced championship will work. Everyone must be realistic and accept that things are not going to be the same this year, but a shorter season will work. Looking back, maybe our previous seasons were too long anyway. Players’ health would be the main concern and then getting up to the necessary pace and level again. We must think of players’ families, ensure we follow the guidelines and hope for the best. I am looking forward to getting back to it as we were just beginning to find form before everything stopped.’


Kevin O’Driscoll (Kilmacabea): ‘Reading through the GAA’s 15-page document, it is a case of following their procedures and not mingling around before or after training. It will be non-contact for the first few weeks, but I’d say our lads will just be happy to get back on a pitch, to be honest. I don’t know if all this will work though. You have non-contact until mid-July and then you are supposed to have the championship a week and a half later. That is a worry in terms of preparation as you haven’t much of a window to work with. It will be difficult. Three weeks ago, I had the season written off after listening to the GAA President. Now, the Covid-19 numbers are so low, I and everyone else in the GAA is just happy to be going back. From U8s to junior, everyone has missed it and missed meeting their friends, especially the youngsters.’

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