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What your county said - What will be the biggest challenge following the Covid-19 pandemic?

A complete guide of what your county said when asked the big question

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"The biggest problem is the youth, because they are fed up. They are missing friends, that comradeship, some form of normality." That was the view of Louth chairman, and former manager of the county's senior footballers, Peter Fitzpatrick. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"The biggest problem is the youth, because they are fed up. They are missing friends, that comradeship, some form of normality." That was the view of Louth chairman, and former manager of the county's senior footballers, Peter Fitzpatrick. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"The biggest problem is the youth, because they are fed up. They are missing friends, that comradeship, some form of normality." That was the view of Louth chairman, and former manager of the county's senior footballers, Peter Fitzpatrick. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

ANTRIM (Ciarán McCavana): A lack of games and finances.

ARMAGH (Mickey Savage): The potential drop-off of people between [ages of] 17 and 20 – that will be a challenge to get those people back in. Like every other county, there’ll be financial challenges too, trying to keep sponsors on board, while Armagh have big plans for a centre of excellence.

CARLOW (Jim Bolger): Post-Covid, the biggest challenge will be as it was pre-Covid – ie finances/funding.

CAVAN (Kieran Callaghan): Fixtures planning. Getting fixtures played in a shorter time-frame is a serious challenge and people must be realistic about what county boards can do. We have a great collaboration between LGFA, camogie, senior and underage GAA. The three codes work together brilliantly, but people demanding this, that and the other must understand we will only have a very short window to play a mass of games.

Even from the point of view of referees, a number of our referees last year opted out because of Covid, personal and family reasons. With all the fixtures coming together in all codes at the same time, the same referees are refereeing all the games and that’s a major problem.

I see mental health as a major problem too, particularly among the youth, because people are in lockdown, there is no social interaction and we, as human beings, need social interaction. The fear in people around clubs is unbelievable, getting people to go back out and have the confidence to go back out will be a challenge.

CORK (Marc Sheehan): The biggest post-Covid challenge for clubs will be to finance their operations, particularly their units who have major borrowings and commitments on infrastructural projects. In Cork, our newly launched Rebels Bounty members draw which commences on March 25 is proving a major success for all – especially clubs who retain 100 per cent of the ticket price beyond their target figure.

Clubs are very supportive of the new venture and it provides risk-free finance with an attractive prize fund of €500k in cash – online sales are going particularly well at present. The club finance available is a major plus for all clubs during the Covid-19 situation.

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DERRY (Stephen Barker): Unfortunately, we can’t say much on this at present because the situation is ever-changing and there are too many unknowns. However, we expect challenges for fixtures with the rapidly evolving competitive structural changes. A challenge we look forward to is getting our games back up and running to ensure maximum participation for underage and adults.

DONEGAL (Mick McGrath): Retaining sustainability in coaching, membership numbers in clubs [and] affordability of county teams’ participation. Clubs being able to rebound financially will be a challenge. Grants from Croke Park and Provincial Councils will be non-existent for a number of years for physical development.

DOWN (John Devaney): The obvious answer is finance. The challenges posed for counties and clubs last year were surmountable. However, 2021 brings more uncertainty and the likelihood that GAA and public provision of funding won’t be so readily available. So that means that we have to tighten our belts and ride out the storm. What lies beyond that?

Will funds be harder to acquire over the next few years? If we want to invest in facilities (as we plan to do with the Ballykinlar Centre), coaching, etc, how difficult will it be to access grant aid? Another wider challenge is how and what we can learn from the bad and the good of the pandemic.

The GAA will have an even more important role to play in providing an outlet for activity and social engagement; so we will have to work hard to re-engage our clubs, members, supporters and communities.

DUBLIN (Michael Seavers): Dublin management committee await the definitive list of motions that will be discussed at Congress later this month and, until such time, I will not be in a position to disclose our views on any of the topics raised. I feel it would be inappropriate of me to comment on any of the questions before members of management discuss them.

GALWAY (Pat Kearney): Cash-flow situation, and a delay in progressing approved capital projects at both county and club level due to financial constraints. In addition, the potential loss of younger players as a consequence of limited programme of games in schools and curtailed activities at club level.

KERRY (Tim Murphy): Ensuring the safety and welfare of players, volunteers and supporters is maintained. Maximising the number of supporters attending games (possible reluctance to return initially from a health perspective).

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KILDARE (Mick Gorman): Unfortunately, I don’t see any post-Covid period emerging any time soon. It will take time to return to the 2019 levels of activities, which may have to occur on a phased basis. Our biggest challenge will be to safely facilitate gatherings of people, whether for meetings, training, competing, spectating, socialising etc.

Being able to perform all of these activities is, of course, predicated on each county’s Covid status. Ultimately the common denominator is the ability to participate/interact on and off the field, for all involved.

The financial health of the county and well-being of all involved require high levels of participation/interaction. Returning to 2019 levels of participation and interaction, as soon as we can safely do so, is the biggest challenge.

LAOIS (Peter O’Neill): Biggest challenge is finance. With little or no income, it will be challenging, if almost impossible, to field inter-county teams and give the players and management the back-up required both by them and as stipulated in the GPA charter.

LEITRIM (Enda Stenson): There is so much uncertainty. There hasn’t been an opportunity to discuss funding, there is a lot to be discussed and this is the opportunity to do so. When you talk about county preparations, finance is huge. There has to be a appraisal of how counties are financed and so every county gets a fair crack of the whip.

LIMERICK (John Cregan): The biggest issue for all of us is finance. Support from Croke Park and the Government got us through last year and left us in a reasonably good position. If we didn’t have that subvention for the inter-county championship we’d be seriously in the red. This year, we are not guaranteed that.

I’d still be hoping the Government would come good and provide additional resources because it is for the national good that there is a campaign, a championship. We were fortunate our fundraising events in 2020 worked well. But you are in very uncertain territory and it’s looking very gloomy from a financial point of view.

LONGFORD (Albert Cooney): Raising of finance to sustain inter-county football at all grades and general operations of the organisation within the county. Our main income streams were generated from gate receipts, and grants from Croke Park. Social gatherings have been prohibited for 2020 and possibly most of 2021, gate receipts were drastically reduced in 2020 and will possibly be the same in 2021, with no word of resumed grant payments from Croke Park for 2021.

This indicates the serious challenges we have replacing these income streams in order to operate through 2021. Other challenges posed are the monitoring of the health status of players, management etc for Covid-related illness, all of which costs money.

LOUTH (Peter Fitzpatrick): The mental toll on members, the uncertainty. We can’t put plans together. There isn’t a day that I don’t get a call from a club or a player about it. The biggest problem is the youth because they are fed up. They are missing friends, that comradeship, some form of normality. This third lockdown has really hurt people. All anyone is looking for is some certainty, light at the end of the tunnel.

MAYO (Liam Moffatt): In a post-Covid environment we suspect that the greatest challenges will include:

Health and safety: The health & safety concerns of our members as they return to attend games. Games schedule: While the certainty of the split-season is highly welcomed, possible player retention issues at club level, if club players are experiencing larger than normal gaps in the playing season, with the new format. We are also concerned with and conscious of the health benefits of a safe return to activity for our underage players. Financial: We suspect assisting clubs with financial planning and at inter-county level, the effective administration of what is essentially an SME.

MEATH (John Kavanagh): The health and safety of our players, members, supporters, volunteers and patrons, playing and attending our games will pose a challenge. We have shown from last year that we are capable of running our games in a safe manner.

There will be financial challenges in the operational running of Coiste na Mí. Gate receipts and fundraising activities have been decimated.

OFFALY (Michael Duignan): Just getting everything back up and running. We’d a very stop-start season last year and we don’t know where we stand again this year. One of the big things that we want to do is to put in a very meaningful games programme, particularly at underage level.

ROSCOMMON (Brian Carroll): Finance will be a big challenge going forward for all counties and we will be no different. Finance will be a big challenge for the GAA at national level and that will have a knock-on effect on counties as grants will be affected for coaching and infrastructure development, physical development, etc.

SLIGO (Seán Carroll): Undoubtedly finance. Two years of inter-county championships with effectively no spectators will have a knock-on impact on all counties. We expect it will eventually mean added debt and of course no funding available for developments at club or county level. Hopeful that club championships attendances and streaming of these will start the fightback in the autumn.

TIPPERARY (Joe Kennedy): The biggest issue will be stabilising our finances and redrawing the plans that had been made in line with whatever funding is available post-Covid. I would be keen to develop our streaming services, exploring the possibility of continued and expanded online broadcasting after crowds are allowed return to matches again.

WESTMEATH (Frank Mescall): Our biggest challenge will be finances, but also the damage caused to our underage. In lots of ways our juveniles are going to miss out on two years of development. This poses a problem for hurling because it’s a more skilful game and I really think you have to learn it at a young age.

WEXFORD (Micheál Martin): Our priority in our strategic plan will be providing a player pathway and games programme. Young players have lost a year’s development and faced tremendous challenges. Our games programme, which will be helped by a split-season, can help restore a sense of normality and contribute to the well-being of players and our communities. Our other strategic priorities include an infrastructure plan which will cost in excess of €4m. Funding such a plan while also funding player development initiatives will be a significant challenge.

WICKLOW (Martin Fitzgerald): Biggest problem is finance and also the playing of games; ie the mental health of young players.

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