Peter Canavan is optimistic that the 2020 All-Ireland Championships will go ahead, amid uncertainty due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Club GAA has returned over the last two months, with the inter-county season set to begin in October. But, with a rising number of cases in the country, coupled with the Irish government’s decision to move all sports behind closed doors until September 13, some have raised doubts over the feasibility of an inter-county season.
“It’s a big ask and I would have concerns whether it would be finished, of course I do. But we must be optimistic, and we must have a target that we can reach,” Canavan said on Inside The Game, the new GAA discussion show on Sky Sports.
“I know a lot of people were concerned when the club football was up-and-running, whether it would be completed. Well we’ve played five or six weeks here in Tyrone, things have ran very smoothly.
“The first-round championship games have been played, and the quality of football has never been better despite the fact that lads have missed so much training. Among the local community, it gives people so much to talk about; the games coming up, the games played.
“It’s not anywhere close to a return to normal, but we have football, we have something to look forward to. A lot of the games throughout the counties are being streamed, and that is going down very well. In terms of inter-county [championships] getting back on the 31st October, I think it’s brilliant. I’m really looking forward to the games.
“Whether there’s many supporters at them or not, there’s still going to be some massive games. We’ve seen with clubs playing their local rivals, even though there’s very few at it, it still means a lot to the players. The quality has been very good.
“So why can that not be replicated at inter-county level?
“Very much, I would be optimistic. I’m looking forward to it. And I just hope we get the games played.”
It’s not anywhere close to a return to normal, but we have football, we have something to look forward to.
Canavan says Gaelic football’s return has raised spirits
- GAA calls for explanation over removal of crowds
- Sport in Ireland moved behind closed doors
- Carew unveiled as new Carlow manager
Behind closed doors?
With a reduced number of spectators, or indeed at empty venues, it will certainly be a championship like no other.
However, Kieran Donaghy feels it will not take anything away from the on-field intensity.
“It’s certainly different,” conceded the former Kerry star. “You’ve no use of the dressing rooms, you’ve no use of the dugouts, you’ve to come togged off. I was getting physio on the side of the pitch in the pouring rain before a game against Kilcummin! So there is a lot of things there that make it difficult for us.
“Yes we know there’s not going to be crowds at games for the next three weeks, and we don’t know how that’s going to fare out for the rest of the year. But Peter will tell you – we would have played trial games in Tyrone and Kerry behind closed doors, and there’s never an issue with being up for the game, and all you’re doing is fighting against one of your team-mates for a spot, or to keep your spot.
“There’s nobody in the stands, there’s nobody in the dugouts, and there’s skin and hair flying out on the pitch!
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