GAA have made the right call in phased reopening

By Hayden Moore

ST JUDE’S Senior Football manager Gareth Roche believes the GAA made the right call by keeping all related activity shut down as the government outlined a road map for the “phased reopening” from the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the roadmap, the government detailed how people can exercise in groups of up to four people from other households where social distancing can be maintained from May 18 onwards.

Thomas Davis V St Judes 02 compressor

St Jude's Senior Footballers

“When it first kicked off there was a lot of panic to get footballs to lads, the leadership group trying to organise groups of four training,” Roche tells The Echo.

“We knew the players would start to organise it themselves but there was a bit of panic around trying to marshal it all.

“When the GAA came out on Friday and basically said ‘no, we’re shutting it down’, there was a sense of relief there. It is something the GAA needed to do and they did it.”

In a statement released by the GAA, it read that “facilities are to remain closed as part of efforts to prevent gatherings which breach restrictions” and instructed clubs and counties to “refrain from organised on-field activity”.

In the government’s five-phase roadmap, with each phase coming into effect in three-week intervals from May 18, GAA competitions can resume as part of the fourth phase – on July 20.

Although it did say they can only resume where social distancing can be maintained – something GAA president John Horan does not believe to be possible.

Speaking on The Sunday Game, Horan spoke of how he does not know how Gaelic games, which are contact sports, can be played while the social distancing rule is in place.

Roche, who took charge of the St Jude’s Senior Footballers in 2019, echoed Horan’s sentiments.

He said: “Look GAA is a contact sport and to be honest I can’t see it happening this year.

“There are people putting their lives on the line every single day on the frontline and the last thing we can be worried about right now is a league or championship.

“We’re all very competitive and goal orientated people.

“There is lads out there putting millage on the clock, putting unnecessary pressure on their joints, who would maintain a general level of fitness all year round.

“But now is about making up for lost time with your girlfriend, partner, wife or whoever for all of the year’s spent away playing GAA. All of the Valentines Days, birthdays and so on.

“Lads who are maybe 28/29/30 years-old have made an awful lot of sacrifices through the years and have serious miles in the tank – maybe taking a season off might not be the worst thing.

“We’ll get back up and running next March or whenever we’ll be able to play again, hopefully refreshed and ready to go.”

The Templeogue side played Castleknock in a friendly just before the start of the season and it turned out to be the only game that they would kick a ball in so far this year.

Due to poor weather, their start in the Adult Football League Division One was postponed and was delayed indefinitely following the onset of the pandemic.

But as Roche explained, they are doing some light training individually to focus on maintaining their mental health.

“The players aren’t actually doing a whole lot of training, just a couple of a yoga sessions a week through Zoom and the strength and conditioning coach is working individually with the players on a few things,” he says.

“We’re not doing any 5k runs with these insane times or anything, we’re not saying ‘you have to do this’.

“The attitude we’re taking is to enjoy the time off with your family while you can.

“The leadership group is going to do up a table quiz in the next weeks, if they call each other once a week then that’s great.

“It’s about making sure we’re all okay and taking care of our minds.

“We’d normally have work and GAA. Now there’s probably no work and no GAA so a lot of us don’t have the outlet of playing GAA.

“We can’t go out there and kick a ball in anger so it’s very important that we’re looking after one another.

“If the GAA keep saying that it could happen at some point then that’s great because it gives us something to look forward to.”

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