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Davy Fitzgerald expresses disappointment as GAA deviates from Government roadmap

Cautious approach sees suspension of GAA activity continue for another 11 weeks

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Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile

BACKS TO THE WALL: Paul Fennell, orginally from the Castletown Geoghegan club in Westmeath, pucks a sliotar against the railway bridge wall outside Croke Park yesterday after the latest GAA update on the Covid-19 situation. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

BACKS TO THE WALL: Paul Fennell, orginally from the Castletown Geoghegan club in Westmeath, pucks a sliotar against the railway bridge wall outside Croke Park yesterday after the latest GAA update on the Covid-19 situation. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

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Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile

Confirmation that there would be no inter-county championship until October at the earliest came yesterday as the GAA instructed clubs and counties to remain closed to activities for a further 11 weeks because of the ongoing Covid-19 emergency.

The GAA has asked counties "in the interests of players" to suspend all training "until further notice" and has hinted that there isn't the "appetite" for a behind-closed-doors championship among the wider Association.

The continued closure of club facilities was announced "as part of efforts to prevent gatherings which breach the restrictions" but it deviates from the Government's provisions for easing restrictions in their roadmap published on Friday which specified that pitches could open from May 18 allowing groups of up to four to convene in phase one of the plan.

And that has led to mixed reaction among the players and managers at club and county level. Among them is the Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald who also doubles as manager of his home club Sixmilebridge.

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He has expressed some "disappointment" that the GAA hasn't followed the Government roadmap and felt it would have been good for the "well-being" of players to be reconvening in small groups with proper social distancing in place.

"When we got the announcement last Friday, I thought it was great progress and I welcomed it," he said.

"I felt it was a boost, even myself I found the last week or two tough. And when I did ring the lads they definitely got a boost. We knew there could be no contact in training or tackling but at least three or four lads could go for a run and stay 10 yards apart.

"Players were genuinely looking forward to getting back together in their local clubs and doing these kinds of sessions. It was like giving them X amount of money. It was great. And they just took that away from them.

"For the well-being of players, I don't think they needed to do that. I'd like to have seen the GAA stick to the Government roadmap a bit more," said Fitzgerald, stressing that if championship didn't go ahead later in the year because of public health concerns, he would, naturally, fully understand and embrace that.

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Fitzgerald added that there had to be some "trust" that managers and players would do the right thing with proper health and social distancing measures.

The GAA appeared to pour cold water on a behind-closed-doors championship, stating that the "appetite" in the wider Association was not there for it. But among managers and players there is an apparent willingness to play in that environment.

The GAA has set up an advisory group, including four leading doctors and injury specialists, under the chairmanship of the GAA's health and safety committee chair Shay Bannon, to provide a "graduated approach" based on government advice in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Clarification will be sought from the Government on some of the points illustrated in the roadmap, particularly around how social distancing policies can be aligned on the field.

With pitches shut until July 20, the ever-popular Cúl camps look like they can't now go ahead unless policy changes.


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