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Poll: Slight majority favour behind-closed-doors option to no matches at all

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A poll carried out by the Killarney Advertiser this week has found that 55% of our readers would rather see the GAA staging senior intercounty matches behind closed doors than cancelling the 2020 championships entirely.

With mass gatherings of over 5,000 people prohibited until September at the earliest as the Irish government attempts to limit the spread of the coronavirus, supporters will not be permitted to attend any major football or hurling matches this summer – if any matches go ahead at all.

The GAA are currently weighing up their options with regards to this year’s championships, which were originally scheduled to begin in the coming weeks before tentatively being pushed back to July. It is believed that playing senior intercounty fixtures in empty stadia is on the table and reaction to that particular prospect has been mixed.

Some eminent GAA personalities, like Kerry and Dr Crokes legend Colm Cooper, have questioned the value of having matches without fans, while others, like Kerry manager Peter Keane, have argued that it would be better than nothing at all.

The results of the Killarney Advertiser survey have confirmed that the local GAA community is also largely divided on this thorny issue, with a small majority leaning towards matches behind closed doors.

CLUB v COUNTY

Interestingly, over three-quarters of our readers believe that if GAA activity is allowed to resume in the near future, the club game should be prioritised over county. A whopping 76% of those polled feel as though club should come first and that smaller, local competitions should take precedence over the provincial and national championships.

For his part, GAA President John Horan has reiterated that club will be the first to get up and running once it is safe to do so as he dismissed “irresponsible” reports that intercounty panels would be permitted to start training again in the coming weeks.

"We're an amateur sport,” he told RTÉ this week. “I know there's a lot of speculation that professional sports like rugby and soccer may come back here in Ireland and overseas, but that's probably in the sense that they've cocooned their players.

"Our amateur athletes, they go back to their families, they go back to their workplace. We can't put any of those people, or those people they come in contact with, at risk just for the sake of playing games. We won't be making any rushed decision on this.

"If and when we do return, the club scene will be our priority because 98% of our activity happens at club level.

"As we're looking at it at the moment, our return initially will be back to club activity before we engage in the intercounty playing."

Horan also revealed that competitions at club and intercounty level could now run into 2021, and that the GAA would be content to see that happen.

"We're open to that if that's a possibility," he said. "We'd just adjust the 2021 season. I think there's a hunger and an appetite out there among both players and spectators to see the games being played.”

OPTIMISM

The outlook in the coming months remains uncertain but despite the doom and gloom, many people are still optimistic that our national sports will return at some stage in 2020.

When asked in our survey, which was carried out online via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, 57% of our readers said they think that GAA matches will be played at some stage this year, with the remaining 43% fearing that we may have already seen our last bit of GAA action until 2021.

With club activity officially scheduled to resume on May 5, an official announcement from the GAA is expected in the coming days.

 

Pic: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile.

 

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Glorious weather for Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships

It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough […]

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It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough Bay on Lough Lein.

Hundreds flocked to the Valley shore to see the coastal clubs of Kerry race in crews from Under 12 to Masters. As well as clubs from around the Ring of Kerry, there was a strong representation from the Killarney clubs with the Workmen, Commercials and Fossa wearing their colours with pride. The atmosphere, colour, fun and fierce competition produced a spectacular day that will live long in the memory.

The event was opened by the Councillor John O’Donoghue, vice chair of the Killarney Municipal District who congratulated Flesk Valley on their centenary, which occurred during 1920, and wished all of the clubs a successful day’s racing.

The first race was preceded by a special blessing of the boats by Fr Eugene McGillycuddy, who also remembered Brendan Teahan of Cromane Rowing Club in his prayers.

Afterwards John Fleming, chair of Flesk Valley, expressed his immense pride and satisfaction with the success of the regatta.

“It’s our first time ever hosting a regatta, but we wanted to do something special to mark our 102 years in existence,” he said.

“It was a lot of work, but we have a fantastic hard-working committee in Flesk Valley who really pulled out all the stops to make it happen, and we received fantastic support from our members, parents, other clubs and local businesses.”

John also thanked the Kerry Coastal Rowing Association, in particular Mary B Teahan and Andrew Wharton, and the staff of the Killarney National Park for all their support and encouragement in hosting this event.

This was a qualifying event and the Kerry clubs will be heading to Wexford next weekend to complete for honours at the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships.

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Live referee mics should be the norm – swearing concerns be damned

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by Adam Moynihan

I was disappointed to learn that the GAA are preventing TG4 from using their live referee mic in this Sunday’s Wexford hurling final.

(And not just because I had already written an article saying how great live referee mics are and how they are sure to be implemented across the board. Ctrl + A. Delete.)

TG4’s GAA coverage is superb and they raised the bar once again when they mic’d up referee John O’Halloran for the Kerry hurling final between Causeway and Ballyduff.

Pinning a microphone on the referee is standard practice in televised rugby and judging by the positive response to Gaelic games’ first foray into this territory, I was expecting it to become the norm.

It still might but, explaining their decision to The 42, the GAA said that they were not aware beforehand of the ref mic being trialled in Stack Park on Sunday.

“They believe such a development will require more discussion and education if it is to be implemented on a more regular basis in live TV coverage and could possibly need a policy change,” Fintan O’Toole reported.

The image of the Association is surely the primary concern here.

Players and managers – usually the worst behaved participants when it comes to things like swearing – will be among those who get “educated” on the subject. Some verbal abuse that might otherwise be muted for television viewers will, in all likelihood, be picked up by the referee’s microphone. You would imagine that the teams involved will be reminded of this the week of a televised game.

It also makes sense from Croke Park’s point of view to speak to referees and give them guidance on how to conduct themselves when the mic is on.

In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if senior GAA figures are currently fretting over the possibility of an agitated ref making headlines for something they say in the heat of the moment. And make no mistake about it, some match officials can eff and jeff with the best of them.

A friend of mine (a Wexford man, funnily enough) recalls an incident when a teammate was unceremoniously taken out of it by an opponent.

“Ah ref, for f***’s sake!” the victim complained.

“I gave you the f***ing free,” the referee replied. “What do you want me to do, slap him in the face with a wet fish?!”

The GAA might think that a referee swearing like that would leave all of us red-faced. In reality the clip would be a viral sensation and the general public would probably call for the official in question to run for Áras an Uachtárain. (He’d get my ****ing vote.)

The odd swear word from someone involved is bound to sneak through every now and then but you’d hear the same – and plenty more – at any match you attend from Cahersiveen to County Antrim.

Implementing the referee mic on a wider scale is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t appear to take a huge amount of effort or expense for the broadcaster to set it up and, more importantly, it offers a wonderful insight into the unknown.

Listening to referees explain their decisions in real time will clear a lot of things up for commentators, analysts and the media. We will no longer have to speculate about what they did or did not see, or what specific rule is being cited, or why.

Viewers, especially those who might be casual followers of the sport, will appreciate it too and become more educated; I know that’s how I feel when I watch rugby, for example.

It just leads to greater transparency and understanding.

Well done to TG4 and the Kerry County Board for being the pioneers. I’m sure others will follow their lead – as soon as the GAA allow them to do so.

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