18 Aug 2022

Opinion: Hopefully some Covid-19 GAA match day protocols will remain - Jerome O'Connell

Opinion: Hopefully some Covid-19 GAA match day protocols will remain - Jerome O'Connell

WITH the government still not allowing more than 200 gather at outdoor venues there was no good news for GAA supporters in the latest update regarding Covid-19 restrictions. 

No doubt a more vocal support from the sidelines would be welcome for the club championships in the coming weeks.

But Covid-19 restrictions have brought some positives since the return of GAA action on July 17.

For too long the sidelines of club hurling and football matches have been busier than the departure gates at Shannon Airport.

The Covid-19 restrictions allow for just 24 togged out players inside the field of play at any one time and up to seven other team officials – including a team secretary and medical staff.

And, that’s plenty and something that should be enforced more at present and into the future.

It reduces the opportunity for sideline flash points too, which I am sure referees and linemen welcome. That said I know one team coach has managed to get sent from the sideline in both opening rounds of the club championship!

I’m sure varying team managements can even work it to their advantage to ensure a real competitive environment within their group to get into the 24 on championship day – although the option to rotate the substitutes does technically exist.

There are of course elements of the current matchday protocols I care to never see again. While I understand it is necessary at present, the water break roughly at the mid-point of each half is a disaster for breaking momentum in the game of hurling.

The long journey from between the goal posts for a quick sip of water before the return journey is even forcing goalkeepers into extra fitness training! Indeed I’ve seen one team break into two separate groups at opposite ends of the field for the water break to cut down on mileage. It also allows a distinct message to be passed to defenders and attackers in the minutes or so.

Another positive is the pro-active role of the PRO and certainly the clubs and counties with good PROs have shone brightest in recent times – ensuring timely and accurate updates to those unable to attend games. And, not even the welcome addition of online streaming or television coverage of games, but the day-to-day delivery of fixtures, match updates, results and news.

Hopefully the days of the PRO being the position filled at AGMs is long over because communication is key to popularise anything.

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