The View: So inter county players are not elite any more - what a slap in the face

Noel Dundon


Noel Dundon


Seamus Callanan

Tipperary hurling captain Seamus Callanan elite in our eyes even if the government doesn't think so

For many, the games were a real pick-me-up and of course for the victorious teams, it was wonderful, if not strange and totally unique.

You'd really have to wonder about it all.

Like, the All-Ireland senior hurling and football championships, together with the provincial championships in the same grades, were run off with relative ease at the back end of 2020. And, they gave the sport starved general public plenty to be chatting about when they were on their ZOOM calls or trying to catch up with friends and family through whatever other means were at their disposal.

For many, the games were a real pick-me-up and of course for the victorious teams, it was wonderful, if not strange and totally unique. The Tipperary senior footballers would certainly regard the Munster championship victory as being historic and to have not had that championship played would have been a travesty for all concerned, especially considering the centenary of Bloody Sunday and all that went with it.

Players, managements, County Boards, stadia, media and anyone associated with the staging of the games, went to extra ordinary lengths to ensure that everyone was safe while the games were going on and the training programmes were underway. The backroom teams in Tipperary had a huge suite of arrangements to undergo for each and every session, not to mention to the challenge of getting players to and from the games - those players who were permitted to travel that is - remember the bru-ha-ha which unfolded when it was revealed that players outside of the match day panel would not be allowed into the vast empty concrete jungles which are the stands of our major stadia?

And yes, in keeping with the happenings amongst the general public, there were cases of Covid-19 in some camps, with some teams having to pull out of games and isolation having to come into play.

But, considering the level of activity and the kind of movement associated with bringing inter county teams together, the instances of Covid-19 were very low and were very well managed.

Players and management were safe and that was the key message. The Boards ensured that the elite players were looked after in a very elite fashion and if there was any difficulty, it was dealt with in a very efficient and quite manner, to ensure the privacy of the individuals involved - everyone is entitled to that privacy, even inter county players, no matter how we might feel we have ownership of them.

But now, it seems our inter county players are no longer elite? What a slap in the face that is to all those who put so much into getting into the kind of peak condition that makes them amongst the fittest athletes on the planet?

You'd really have to ask yourself, who in the name of God is making these decisions, and why did they not complete the communications course? Not only have they gone back on their thinking which allowed the games to proceed last autumn and winter, they have also managed to annoy the hell out of the very people they were depending on to give people something to talk about leading up to Christmas.

The GAA's problem here is that they cannot growl and throw the toys out of the pram. Why? Because it is quite likely that they will have to go cap in hand to government again to seek funding to eventually allow the games to take place - whenever it is decided that the inter county players are suddenly elite players again!!

There is a massive communications issue in relation to how this whole Covid-19 fiasco is being handled by the powers that be and that has now extended into the sporting spheres. Ministers are tripping over each to grab soundbites, but then they are going back on those pronouncements because suddenly in shooting thier mouths off, they have contradicted each other and are making each other look stupid - well guess what?

When the two senior politicans in the land are regularly delivering conflicting messages, it's hard to expect anything else from anybody else. And, let's face it, those messages are about issues a lot more serious than sport - life and death issues for instance.

So, GAA players are no longer elite sportspeople according to government - just wait to see how long it is before that particular statement is withdrawn.

Chances are that the inter county season will now revert to something similar to last year with the club games running first.

Rud EileColm O'Rourke argued in this weeks Sunday Independent that juvenile players are really losing out by not being allowed to train and play games. At a time when every parent is trying so hard to keep kids off screens, and now they are using screens every day for home school tuition and all that this entails, there has never been a more important time for the kids to be able to get to the field to puck or kick a ball.

It can't happen yet unfortunately, but hats off to all the clubs, GDA's and coaches who are trying to fill the void by sending out coaching work on wattsapps and group chats etc. The onus is on parents now to ensure that the kids get out with the ball and get the eye in again - this would be a good week to start considering it is mid-term in most places.