Crowds of 500 set to boost GAA and soccer games

Irish Independent - - Sport - Donnchadh Boyle & Michael Ver­ney

HOPES are grow­ing that sport in Ire­land will be handed a sig­nif­i­cant boost with the re­lax­ing of mea­sures around the stag­ing of out­door events to al­low up to 500 peo­ple at­tend.

As it stands, sport­ing events such as GAA club games and League of Ire­land matches have been re­stricted to a max­i­mum at­ten­dance of just 200 peo­ple, in­clud­ing play­ers and of­fi­cials.

Ir­ish soccer’s do­mes­tic league re­turned last week­end in front of very lim­ited crowds while GAA club games have also gone ahead.

Some of those matches have taken place in large sta­dia which led for calls for the at­ten­dance lim­its to be re­viewed.

And while re­stric­tions on in­door events are ex­pected to be re­tained, the Govern­ment could be about to al­low larger crowds at­tend out­door events at a meet­ing this week.

Last month, GAA pres­i­dent John Ho­ran (above) had called for that limit to be re­laxed. “All we are try­ing to do is get peo­ple to be ac­tive out­side and there is a pent-up de­mand for peo­ple to go to these matches,” he said. “I don’t think by call­ing for an in­crease from 200 to 500 that I’m putting pub­lic health or any­body at risk.

“We have put a lot of ed­u­ca­tion and pro­to­cols in place to pro­tect those in­volved in our games and I think it is a safe call to say we could cater for 500 in our sta­dia.” Mean­while, ex-Car­low coach Steven Poacher be­lieves there will be a “mas­sive im­pact” if in­ter-county ac­tion com­mences later this year amid the threat of the coro­n­avirus with some high-pro­file play­ers step­ping away from their coun­ties.

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Poacher ex­pects things to be any­thing but plain sail­ing when in­ter-county games re­sume from Oc­to­ber 17 and he pre­dicts that “the s**t might hit the fan around Hal­loween” given the high vol­ume of GAA play­ers who are work­ing as teach­ers.

“I can’t see the in­ter­county sea­son run­ning as smoothly as we think it’s go­ing to be and I think the s**t might hit the fan around Hal­loween. It’s a sit­u­a­tion where we’re to­tally in the un­known,” Poacher said.

“My big­gest con­cern is that in­ter­county is go­ing to be played in the depths of ’flu sea­son and that’ll have a mas­sive im­pact.

“A high pop­u­la­tion of in­ter-county play­ers are teach­ers and it’s the one en­vi­ron­ment where this thing is go­ing to be rife. It will be a hub for spread­ing the virus so you won­der is it vi­able?”

Poacher (pic­tured) also ex­pects many play­ers to con­sider their short-term in­ter-county fu­ture.

“Play­ers are go­ing to start think­ing, ‘Do I re­ally want to go back to this? Do I re­ally want to com­mit to this?’ A lot of these lads are en­joy­ing their free time with their friends, wives and girl­friends and their week­ends away and golf­ing and hill walk­ing.

“I’ve spo­ken to a num­ber of play­ers who ques­tion whether it’s worth go­ing back for such a short sea­son in such a con­densed pe­riod when peo­ple are try­ing to get back to a lit­tle bit of nor­mal­ity,” he added.

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