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Fitzgerald urges caution

Players ‘buzzing’ after Taoiseach offers hope of return

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The announcement by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday night raised spirits among the Wexford Senior hurling squad, although their manager favours a cautious approach to a potential return to action. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The announcement by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday night raised spirits among the Wexford Senior hurling squad, although their manager favours a cautious approach to a potential return to action. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

The announcement by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday night raised spirits among the Wexford Senior hurling squad, although their manager favours a cautious approach to a potential return to action. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Wexford Senior hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald has urged caution while welcoming the announcement of a possible return to play.

'Let's wait another month to see what progress has been made,' he pleaded.

'Look, I am a firm believer in hope. I always have hope and I firmly believe there will be something positive at the end of all this,' he added.

Fitzgerald said that after An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made the announcement on Friday night's 'Late Late Show' of the possibility of having an All-Ireland championship this year, he had several phone calls and texts from his players.

'The players were buzzing to tell you the truth at the prospect of there being a championship. Now not all G.A.A. players are going to be that way.

'I haven't talked to them all, but I've talked to a good lot of them. Once they got that small bit of hope they were delighted,' he added.

Medical doubts still remain over the resumption of a G.A.A. championship at club or inter-county level due to concerns over physical contact.

The G.A.A. is likely to maintain its cautious approach on a possible return to play when it considers the detail in the Government's phased plans to ease the Covid-19 emergency restrictions.

The Government plan allows for pitches to open for up to four people to exercise on May 18, followed by a return to training, when social distancing is applied, for further smaller groups three weeks later.

A return to games is forecast on July 20, if public health conditions allow. An easing on the closure of G.A.A. clubs and pitches looks likely to follow, in line with the Government plan

However, the G.A.A's management committee in Croke Park will make its determination about a possible return based on medical advice available to them. President John Horan has already stressed the need for player safety in any evaluation.

However, the medical winds appear to be blowing against contact sport in light of the views expressed by one of the members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) over the weekend, stressing the need for a vaccine or treatment to be in place before it could re-start safely.

Otherwise, Dr. Cillian De Gascun said NPHET couldn't recommend contact sport resumption even though it is set out on the Government's roadmap.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar did open the possibility of inter-county championships being held behind closed doors, mentioning the months of August and September as a timeframe.

However, any championship is likely to start much later in the year, in October at the earliest, if at all, with clubs getting the first green light.

However, one member of the national G.A.A. management committee has already expressed strong reservations about any reason to return to play in 2020.

Connacht President Gerry McGovern from Leitrim has said the risks on the field are too great. He also questioned why club players should be put out first when they run the risk of contracting or spreading the virus because of potential contact.

Wexford manager Fitzgerald agrees with the recent Croke Park reticence to rush any definitive calls on the future of the championship for 2020, suggesting that 'the G.A.A. should leave it another month or so before we make any decisions'.

Fitzgerald did say that if it's deemed safe to stage major games in the autumn, but only behind closed doors, he would be in favour of taking part.

He also revealed how the uncertainty was beginning to have an impact on his players.

'A lot of them weren't sure and they were getting probably browned off in the last week or so. But after the announcement on Friday night they were buzzing, the players who 'phoned me and texted,' he said.

Fitzgerald also revealed that personally he had found the last week or so pretty tough going.

'The announcement from the Government gave a small glimmer, a bit of hope there, it was great. I think we all needed that announcement to tell you the God's honest truth.'

In the re-opening Ireland provisional plan, sporting restrictions will be eased in five stages, three weeks apart.

PHASE ONE (May 18)

* Tennis courts and golf courses can re-open but social distancing will apply.

* A maximum of four people can engage in outdoor sport and fitness activities.

PHASE TWO (June 8)

* People can engage in outdoor and sporting activities 'where there is a small group team', but this does not include matches.

PHASE THREE (June 29)

* Some 'behind closed doors' sporting activities will be permitted.

PHASE FOUR (July 20)

* Sports and team leagues, e.g. soccer and G.A.A., and swimming pools re-open. All subject to social distancing.

PHASE FIVE (August 10)

* Close physical contact sports such as rugby, boxing and wrestling will be permitted.

* Sports spectating which involves mass gatherings will be permitted, but only in accordance with both indoor and outdoor number restrictions.

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