Fitzgerald says intercounty game should resume before club fare
Wexford boss also in favour of reopening GAA clubs nationwide possibly earlier than planned
Davy Fitzgerald: “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.” Photograph: Tom O’Hanlon/Inpho
Given that when it’s safe to play and there are no health risks involved, Fitzgerald believes intercounty action should return prior to the clubs once the GAA gets the green light to resume games.
At the start of May, the GAA said the All-Ireland championships won’t be staged until October at the earliest.
However, Fitzgerald believes it’s logical for the intercounty game to return first due to the fewer numbers involved.
“My honest opinion, being involved with Sixmilebridge. Firstly I want to see the safety aspect. 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 GAA 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, and you have to hand it to all the people who have taken the regulations seriously. But we know the circumstance are there at the moment and we just can’t do it.”
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald keeps in 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.”
But social distancing is still a problem for contact sports with GAA president John Horan once again stipulating over the weekend that once social distancing remains in place there will be no games.
Fitzgerald is more hopeful than confident that there might be some GAA action earlier.
“This all needs more thinking. 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 intercounty players have been training since December.
“I know the club scene also [from] 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 bypass them, pushed back by the Government, and still don’t know what format the championship will take, if any.
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 for 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, should be encouraged, for it would be good for their mental health.
“The numbers are now dropping each day, been 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 GAA clubs should be open. We have got to trust our own people. While everyone won’t be perfect we have go to trust our own people. The GAA and its grounds is 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 walk track, they will be able make their own decision.”
Reflecting on the start-up options, Fitzgerald said if you look at the logistics, 32 teams, hurling and football, backroom management teams, you’re probably talking 2,500 people.
‘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.’