We have reached the point where different worlds collide. The yearning for some sort of respite or normality is being doused by the scientists and medics. If all this is taken to its natural conclusion, there will be no movement towards old normality until a vaccine arrives. Don't hold your breath on that one. In real terms, Friday's announcement changed little.
We are still in lockdown and despite the Taoiseach's hope - and it is just hope at the moment - that some sport will be possible in July, we remain to be convinced. For example, he says there might be some GAA and soccer by July 20, and rugby by August 10. In the exit plan, rugby is described as one of the "close physical contact sports". What, then, are Gaelic football, hurling and soccer? Forgive me for being sceptical.
Meanwhile, as we dither, the toll on mental and physical well-being could be enormous, particularly among young people who appear to suffer very little from this Covid-19 virus. Furthermore, as far as I am aware, there is no evidence of children passing the virus to adults. Yet our schools and pitches are closed. Is it right to lock them up?
The question then moves on to this: Who is running the show? It's not that long ago that the general public held the HSE in very poor regard. Now there appears to be unquestioning acceptance that they are doing a great job. Maybe they are, but anybody who asks awkward questions is swatted away by comments about those working so hard on the frontline and the number of people dying. This misses the point.
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The first thing that bothers me is that all the targets on testing continue to be missed. Again, there may be a good reason for this, but nobody knows for sure. The second thing, which is far more important than the testing, is the length of time it is taking to get results. I know people who have waited for nearly a month.
So it is deeply disturbing that our national public health policy is being run on the basis of outdated information and all sporting bodies are being tied up as a result. Perhaps an efficient, fit-for-purpose, testing system would make no difference to when we could safely recommence sport, but then again, maybe it would. There are a lot of people either dead or better before they get their results.
What has this got to do with sport you might ask? Quite a lot in fact. We need a system where you can be tested and have the result within 24 hours. In that scenario, sport is not only possible and desirable, but a necessity for well-being. There should be a clear and realistic timeline set out for when children can play again. Those of us involved in the GAA want to see underage football and hurling resume. To my mind, this should hardly be more than a month away.
So, I am recommending that the GAA should be getting ready for a return to action sooner rather than later. There is nothing reckless in this. I'm not looking to put anyone in harm's way. We, as a society, need to look after the old and vulnerable, but the rest of us will have to get on with our lives again, taking all sensible precautions.
Club underage matches should be able to start quite soon. As I have said before, there could be as many precautions as possible in place. No dressing rooms, hand sanitisers for use before and after games and all players to wear gloves and masks and shower immediately they get home after games. Gloves could be washed or discarded. If the testing was up to scratch, with prompt reporting of results, and there was a case in any club, then contact tracing would be easy and obviously there would be a shut down until the all clear can be given again.
Some parents might opt out and be unwilling to allow their children to take part, and that is totally understandable in the current climate.
And county football and hurling should be played too. Maybe not in the same way as last year, but necessity is the mother of invention, something the GAA is usually good at.
At the moment, though, people seem frozen by fear.
The message last week coming from the GAA at central level, and the Gaelic Players Association too, was concerning. There was little hope. Instead of focusing on something positive and putting out a message of optimism to members, it was all gloom and doom. There appears to be a resignation that there might not be any games at all in 2020. That is a dreadful message to be giving out.
Instead of that, the news should have been that clubs and county boards should have their underage fixtures ready to go and that adult games could follow in due course. If it meant that changes had to be made in a month, then so be it.
The decision to imprison over-70s has also been questionable. They are not the type to take chances with their health. They have built the country and letting them out to walk during the day would have done far more for their health than locking them up. Friday's relaxation didn't go far enough. They are not the over-70s group at risk. That group were in the nursing homes and they were neglected.
Anyway, few older people will be going out to matches for a long time, so there is no need to worry about them on that score. And many of them are healthier than people 20 years younger. Ageism as a public policy is not a good thing.
Of course there is the question of whether or not young people could be trusted to be sensible if restrictions are eased. By and large, the GAA community certainly would be, as would all sportspeople who understand that the whole scene might be fragile. In general I think you can rely on teenagers to keep up their side.
Last week I was stopped at traffic lights in Navan and two male teenagers crossed the road. They were wearing face masks and I thought to myself that this showed maturity and responsibility. Then one of them pulled down his mask and delivered a big spit on to the road. I was going to jump out, chase him down and deliver a flying kick to the arse and a clout behind the ear at the same time, but impatient motorists forced me to move. That type of young man is the exception.
So we are arriving at the question posed earlier in this piece: Who runs the country - the elected executive or the medics?
Naturally there has to be medical guidance, but ultimately there has to be a society. Things like golf, fishing, tennis, horse-racing behind closed doors and sailing are surely safe by any standards. Team sports are slightly different but there comes a time when a balance of risks must be assessed. We are close to that point. Without hope there is no future.
The GAA should be actively seeking an early start date for underage games. There will be a thousand reasons not to do anything, but I hope to see young lads kicking football on long summer evenings in June.
Sunday Indo Sport