GAA express ‘frustration and extreme disappointment’ after Dublin training breaches Covid-19 rules

Updated Apr 1st 2021, 11:25 AM

THE GAA HAVE confirmed that they will “pursue” allegations of Covid-19 training breaches “at the earliest opportunity,” and will “invoke any necessary disciplinary processes as appropriate”.

In a strongly-worded statement, the Association expressed “frustration and extreme disappointment” at recent reports of breaches of GAA and Government guidelines.

This morning, the Irish Independent published photos of Dublin players at an early-morning training session yesterday. It’s reported that at least nine players from the All-Ireland six-in-a-row winning side participated in the session at Innisfails GAA club in Balgriffin.

On Tuesday night, the Irish Examiner reported that Gardaí were investigating possible breaches of Covid-19 regulations with training sessions held by a club in West Cork.

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These reports come the week it was announced that collective senior inter-county training is permitted to resume from 19 April, with a regionalised National League expected to start in May.

A letter was also issued to club and county secretaries afterwards, warning them that counties who resume training early will be punished and potentially put the return to play “in serious jeopardy”.

GAA statement in the wake of reports of training breaches.

— Fintan O'Toole (@fotoole13) April 1, 2021

The GAA’s statement, in full, reads:

“It is with frustration and extreme disappointment that the GAA acknowledges reports today of a potential breach of both our own Covid guidelines and those of the Government relating to the restrictions in place around team training.

“Less than 48 hours ago, the Association reiterated its commitment to these current guidelines and called for continued compliance in the weeks ahead.

“The GAA will pursue the allegations with the units in question at the earliest opportunity and will invoke any necessary disciplinary processes as appropriate.

“In the meantime, while we acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of Counties and Clubs have complied in an appropriate and responsible way with the restrictions currently in place, we once again call on our members and units to uphold the integrity of the Association as part of our ongoing efforts to play our role in thwarting the virus and ensuring a return to activity when it is safe to do so.”

Former GAA President Seán Kelly this morning called for Croke Park to issue a “formal sanction” after a number of Dublin footballers were reported to have breached Covid-19 restrictions.

“If it is true it is surprising and very disappointing – especially coming from the six in a row Dubs,” Kelly said on Newstalk Breakfast this morning. “There is a responsibility with that accolade to give good example.

“Every club and every county in the country are probably frustrated they can’t get back out on the field but there is a roadmap there; the GAA have outlined the guidelines and everyone will have to stick by them.

“I think the GAA will certainly have to look at it very strongly and you have to be consistent in the way you apply the rules.

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“They apply to everybody, whether you are All-Ireland champions or just at the bottom of the ladder.

“This is a serious situation and hopefully it was a once-off breach that won’t happen again because if it goes without some form of formal sanction then others will say why can’t we do the same?

“So, it has created a very difficult dilemma for the GAA.”

Earlier this year, suspensions were handed out to Down and Cork GAA over training breaches in relation to Covid-19. Down football manager Paddy Tally was suspended for eight weeks over a gathering, while Cork football boss Ronan McCarthy was hit with a 12-week ban following a team-building session in Youghal.

– with reporting from Emma Duffy

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