Tyrone player claims some counties training in breach of Covid-19 rules

Conall McCann wants ‘level playing field’ and says teams should return before the 14th

Tyrone’s Conall McCann in action against Antrim in last year’s Ulster championship. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Some counties are blatantly breaching the ban on collective training, according to Tyrone midfielder Conall McCann.

Squad training sessions for intercounty teams are prohibited by the GAA until September 14th, but McCann insists the ruling is being ignored in certain cases.

He says there’s an unfair advantage to be gained by teams who return to competitive action with an extended stretch of squad training under their belts.

“I know that some county teams are training at the moment. It needs to be a level playing field. Some teams are training away. I know that for a fact and we’re not doing anything,” he said.

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“It should give them an advantage. I think there was supposed to be a sanction for counties that trained, but it doesn’t seem to matter. What can you do?

“I don’t really know what the story is going to be with it, to be honest. I know for a fact that we haven’t done anything, we haven’t had one session.”

No player wants to be torn between two stools, playing for two teams at the one time, especially when it's championship time

The GAA’s decision to restart the season following Covid-19 lockdown with club action has given county players a rare opportunity to devote all their energies to their clubs.

But those who are committed to clandestine training sessions with county squads are being robbed of that privilege, and their clubs are suffering as a result.

“Then they’re not giving their all to their club. And I know that in Tyrone, a lot of boys would want to give their all to their club, whereas in other counties, some clubs seem to be not getting their players at all.

“No player wants to be torn between two stools, playing for two teams at the one time, especially when it’s championship time. And everyone knows in Tyrone that any one team out of 16 could probably get to the final or win it.

“I know for myself that I wouldn’t want to be having to train for both teams at the one time.”

I think everyone is just happy to be back out playing and focusing on their club, because they haven't had a proper go at it like this in a right while

McCann’s irritation at the alleged contravention of training regulations is tempered by a suspicion that the efforts of the offending counties may be in vain.

He fears that a renewed surge of the coronavirus infection rate may force another suspension of GAA activities and the abandonment of the intercounty season.

“They’re bound to be at an advantage, but then again, all this work could be for nothing if there’s no championship, so it’s very hard to know. Who knows what’s going to happen in the future, if there’s going to be football at all?

“I’m not really sure what the story is going to be. I know there might be a potential spike later on, and it’s just about waiting to see what happens.

“But I think everyone is just happy to be back out playing and focusing on their club, because they haven’t had a proper go at it like this in a right while. So we’ll just have to wait and see, see what happens and what the future brings.”

He feels that intercounty training should be given the go-ahead to start earlier than September 14th, and on a graduated basis.

McCann suggested that players should be given the go-ahead to return to training with their county squad once their club is eliminated from the championship.

“I think the sensible thing would be that as soon as you’re finished with your club in the club championship, you may go back and do some sort of training with the county.

“To be honest, I haven’t been really thinking about the county season at all. It’s all been to do with Killyclogher ever since football has been back.

“So we’ll just have to wait and see how the club season finishes, and try and focus on the county then.”