More Covid doubt hangs over Kilkenny v Wexford
Kilkenny player tested positive for virus earlier in the week but likely not in team context
There is a potential doubt over whether Wexford v Kilkenny will go ahead this weekend after a further positive Covid test. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho
A further Covid doubt hangs over the Kilkenny-Wexford league fixture this weekend, as Kilkenny have tested their panel for coronavirus after a player proved positive earlier in the week.
The risk to the match going ahead is considered slight, as there is no suggestion that the case arose in a team context. It is likely that the outcome will be known by Friday lunchtime and if as expected, the tests come back negative, Sunday’s league match will go ahead in Nowlan Park at 3.0.
This follows the ‘all clear’ announced after the testing of the Wexford panel for Covid on Thursday turned up no positive cases.
The match was originally set to be played last Sunday but a Covid case in the Wexford camp caused its postponement.
Earlier this week, the Central Competitions Control Committee re-scheduled the fixture for what is fortunately the one gap weekend in the hurling league programme. That re-fixture was subject to the HSE giving Wexford a clean bill of health.
Originally scheduled for last Sunday, the match was postponed when it was announced on Saturday that a third Wexford player had tested positive for Covid.
This was in the wake of two other members of the panel, who had played against Clare in Ennis the previous weekend, revealing earlier in the week that they were positive. Having used the same dressing-room in Ennis, the panel isolated as ‘close contacts’.
Although they initially tested negative, the advice was to test again at the end of the week, which revealed the one further case, which caused the match with Kilkenny to be postponed from last Sunday.
A statement from Wexford was released on Thursday: “Wexford GAA wish to confirm that further testing of our senior hurling panel revealed no positive cases. The panel will resume training and will be in a position to fulfil our upcoming fixture against Kilkenny.”
The outbreak created controversy when two Clare players were deemed close contacts after the counties’ league meeting in Ennis. There followed very public disagreement between Clare manager Brian Lohan and Wexford about how this designation had happened.
Clare backed their manager’s assertion that Wexford players had “nominated” two opponents to the HSE, which was categorically denied by Wexford.
The HSE have not shed any real light on how the designation was arrived at. Initially it was believed that video footage of the match had been analysed but this was denied by Dr Rose Fitzgerald, a public health medicine specialist on Clare FM.
On Wednesday afternoon, Dr Fitzgerald said: “In this department, we haven’t been reviewing videos of matches that I am aware of.
“I’m not able to discuss individual cases but in our experience, we have seen transmission within the setting of playing sports and when we get cases, each is assessed on its own merits. So it will be an interview with the case and it will be discussions about their contacts.
“The risk assessment will include the type of contact and the duration of contact, and we have to make a decision based on the information that we have. It is particular to each individual case the assessment that is done.”
In a statement issued in response to questions from the Irish Examiner on how they had deemed the players ‘close contacts’, the HSE didn’t mention video footage.
“Public Health Mid-West can confirm that our team is experienced with working with sports teams of all ages and ranks in the region. The Mid-West has some of the best athletes in the country, and with that, there is a lot of sporting activity.
“From our experience in the Mid-West, the vast majority of elite athletes and teams are adhering to strict public health guidelines and that allows them to continue training and performing on a weekly basis.
“While outdoor transmission of Covid is much more uncommon than indoor transmission, Public Health Mid-West has recorded cases associated with outdoor sports activity in the past 16 months since the start of the pandemic.
“Covid-19 is significantly more transmissible than it was last year, and that is factored into our public health risk assessment, alongside mitigation measures and contributing factors in a particular situation, including a sporting event.”