GAA selfish to look for crowd increase says former Limerick boss

People should be thankful that GAA championships are going ahead at all says former Limerick manager, Tom Ryan.

The GAA were selfish in looking for crowd limit for outdoor events to be lifted from 200 people, claims former Limerick manager Tom Ryan.

Last Friday week, GAA president John Horan called for the Government to reassess its decision to retain the restriction until August 10 when it’s expected it will rise to 500.

The Northern Ireland Executive has since permitted up to 400 people for outdoor events in the six counties.

However, Ryan believes the GAA should be grateful that they are staging any games at all during a pandemic.

“I would be thinking that the club championships being run off and being played is a success in itself. I’m not particularly worried about the numbers allowed to go to matches. If they can control the 200 then that’s good enough and it seems that the guidelines are being followed.

“I know the figures are being very tight and supporters aren’t getting to games but at least the games are being played and I would be in favour of the 200 figure being maintained. I think by looking for more it was wrong of John Horan. It was a bit of a mistake, I think. 

"It showed a bit of selfishness I think as well because it wasn’t so long ago that they were kind of saying we would have no championships. There’s a mixed message and we need the GAA being in every parish and crossroads in the country to be setting an example, not to be looking after themselves."

“What’s more important than numbers is the protocols being followed and the highest safest precautions being taken. I don’t see how the GAA can look for more. If they get the championship played then that’s what matters. 

"There are plenty of ways for people to follow the games with local radio, streaming, and TV.” 

“It’s obviously a serious loss-making financial situation for the GAA but then Horse Racing Ireland have been even stricter and they have fined some of their biggest names (trainers Aidan and Donnacha O’Brien were banned and fined for failing to enter the Curragh through the health screening area) and they’re running the Galway Races this week behind closed doors.

“They’re suffering a huge hit.

“It’s the players I have a lot of sympathy for because there’s a falseness to the atmosphere they’re playing in because there are such small crowds that there is little interaction. It’s like playing challenge games in terms of who’s there. 

"The more the championships goes on, the more that will be felt but I say it again, at least the competitions are being played.

“I know there is a bit void there at the minute without the crowds. Myself, I wouldn’t have been in favour of matches going ahead at all. I’d be very worried about the maintaining of the distancing and the protocols. That would be very important.