Davy says club scene would be more difficult to manage
Wexford Senior hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald believes the reduced numbers involved makes the return of the inter-county game much easier to manage.
When it's safe to play and there are no health risks involved, Fitzgerald believes inter-county action should return prior to the clubs once the G.A.A. gets the green light to resume games.
At the start of May, the G.A.A. said the All-Ireland championships won't be staged until October at the earliest.
However, Fitzgerald believes it's logical for the inter-county game to return first due to the fewer numbers involved.
'My honest opinion is from being involved with Sixmilebridge. Firstly I want to see the safety aspect,' he said.
'My feeling is that county should come first given it would be more capable to have a controlled aspect to it. It would be a more controlled environment with, say, 25 to 30 players involved.
'I know the G.A.A. wants a county championship and we want the same thing. But everything is going from week to week, and if the trend keeps going at the minute where the rate of infection is well down, you have to hand it to all the people who have taken the regulations seriously.
'But we know the circumstances are there at the moment and we just can't do it.'
The manager is keeping in regular contact with his squad. 'They all have their own individual plans which are being monitored, but we are looking forward to the day when we can come back.'
Social distancing is still a problem for contact sports, with G.A.A. President John Horan once again stipulating over the weekend that there will be no games once social distancing is still in place.
Fitzgerald is more hopeful than confident that there might be G.A.A. action earlier.
'This all needs more thought. While I don't have a preference which goes first, just being logical about the whole thing, the club players are not even back training, while inter-county players have been training since December,' he said.
'I know the club scene also being involved with my own club, Sixmilebridge. I also realise the health issues involved in arriving at a decision.
'I have my own health problems, but once there's a return to action I will be there. For the players it's a personal decision, no pressure will be applied.'
These have been a frustrating few months for Fitzgerald and his Leinster champions, as they have just seen their proposed championship starting date pass them by, pushed back by the government, still not knowing what format the competition, if it even happens, will take.
Reacting to the continued absence of training and matches, Fitzgerald said: 'I'm just anxious about people's mental health. No county team has started back training as a group.
'I would like the government to allow the group of four, for me that's important. Whatever about games, it's important to have players back exercising once they stay within the government guidelines.
'I'm hopeful this will happen as it's important to have people exercise. Should there be no games during the summer, just fine, then drop down to groups of four, which would be important.
'That would give the players an option, the fact they could do stuff in fours, once they stay within the guidelines. This should be encouraged, as it would be good for their mental health.
'The numbers are now dropping each day, being very low right now. There are two sides to this. Do we want to keep living our own lives nervously or do we want to get back out there?'
For now, Fitzgerald regrets seeing club gates still locked.
'I believe G.A.A. clubs should be open. While everyone won't be perfect, we have got to trust our own people,' he said.
'The G.A.A. and its grounds are the hub of the community, so it's a shame to see club gates locked. For people at home who have medical conditions, as to whether they use the walking track, they will be able to make their own decision.'
Reflecting back to the start-up, Fitzgerald said if you look at the logistics of 32 teams, hurling and football, with backroom management personnel, you're probably talking about roughly 2,500 people on the whole.
'So, to manage the county scene is easier than to manage the clubs. We know that there are tens of thousands of club members, so I don't think we should start with the clubs first.
'It would be a lot easier to monitor the county scene, but there's a lot of talking still to be done.'
Meanwhile, the meeting of Wexford County Board to discuss the proposed change in structure of the local championships to four groups of three will be held via videoconference using Microsoft Teams on Wednesday, June 10, at 8 p.m., in accordance with rule 4.7 of the Official Guide.
Each club is asked to nominate and register one delegate to virtually attend, prior to 5 p.m. on Friday, June 5, ideally, either the County Board rep., Chairperson or Secretary.