John Horan warns GAA players ‘either you party or you play sport’

GAA president called on Government to review decision not to expand gathering numbers

GAA president John Horan issued a stark warning to players on Friday. Photo: Tom O’Hanlon/Inpho

GAA president John Horan issued a stark warning to players on Friday. Photo: Tom O’Hanlon/Inpho

 

GAA president John Horan has issued a blunt warning to young people about the dangers of reckless socialising, saying that “sport and partying are not going to work at the moment”.

He was speaking on RTÉ 1’s Morning Ireland on Friday when he also called on Government to review the recent decision not to increase the permitted numbers at outdoor events from 200 to 500.

There have been a number of clubs whose activities have been shut down by Covid-19 cases, which were contracted in the community at house parties.

Previously strong arguments that the playing cohort was the least affected by the pandemic have been turned on their heads in recent weeks, with health authorities expressing alarm at the rise in cases of infection among those under 35.

Horan said GAA members in that age bracket “have got to make a clear decision. Either you party or you play sport. Sport and partying are not going to work at the moment because it’s partying that has brought many of these challenges to our doors as regards to the virus.”

Overall, though the president wasn’t unduly alarmed by the number of cases that have affected clubs in Cork, Dublin, Down, Laois and Carlow.

“GAA clubs are mingled into society and society has the pandemic out there so it was always going to come to the door of the clubs but the one thing I would credit all our officers and people within our clubs with, they have complied with the guidelines we have given them.

“Clubs that had a case arising on the club or near the club have actually applied the guidelines, contacted public health, and most of those clubs have reopened immediately.”

Horan also called on the Government to revisit attendance restrictions, describing the recent revision of maximum permitted crowds at matches as a “hammer blow” and “a bit severe on us as an organisation”.

This referred to the announcement that the limit of 200 on people attending outdoor events would remain and not be revised upwards to 500 from Monday next July 20th with the postponement of Phase 4 of the exit from lockdown.

“We put the return to the club game first to benefit our members and help out county boards survive for those clubs but our county boards were relying on an increase to 500 as a way of being able to cater for the demand on the ground from our supporters.”

He said that small permitted numbers were making it very hard on clubs and counties.

“If you take those involved in the teams and stewarding out of it, you’re probably looking at 120 supporters going to a game. If you work out the dimensions of a GAA pitch that allows for social distancing of four metres between everybody attending the match.

“We have also encouraged everybody to wear face-masks, so I think these figures are a bit severe on us as an organisation, and I openly call on the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to go back and review those figures for us as an organisation.

“The risk factor outside is 1 in 19 in comparison to indoors.

“We have stadia throughout the country which can cater from anything from 6,000 to 50,000 people and to say that you can only have 120 supporters – I think the volunteers in our organisation acted totally responsibly in this pandemic and I don’t think if we allowed them to increase the attendance from 200 to 500 that they would act irresponsibly.”

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