Tyrone Coaching Officer says all provinces should be treated the same

Photo Geraldine Diver / Donegal GAA

Counties throughout Ireland should be permitted individually to return to gaelic games activity if local Covid infection rates are low, a Tyrone official has claimed.

The Red Hands’ coaching officer Damian Harvey said counties in all provinces ought to be treated in the same way as those in Northern Ireland, where training is set to resume on April 12.

The GAA’s Covid Advisory Group has given the go-ahead for clubs in the six northern counties to train in groups of up to 15, in line with easing of restrictions by the Stormont Executive.

“Hopefully the same can happen for the counties that are making good strides in other parts of the country, and hopefully it won’t be too long before they are going to follow suit as well,” said Harvey.

“They’ll have to follow the data from the health authorities, and if there are regions and areas of the country that are doing quite well and able to progress, then it’s up to them to make a decision on whether to introduce five or six counties at a time, or to wait for absolutely everybody.

“We just find ourselves in a slightly better position at the minute up here.

“It’s good that they’re back, getting back out on to a pitch.”

Harvey contends that the Covid Advisory Group took a common sense approach to the issue of returning to the training fields, given the improving situation in the North, along with its effective vaccination programme.

“The GAA’s Covid Committee got their heads around what was happening up here, and it made sense.

“Common sense prevailed in this case, and if other sports are back out, the GAA should be following suit.”

And he wants to see a transition towards a return to competitive games as the next step.

“It’s up to the GAA in this part of the world to take a look at a return to games at a later stage.

“But Croke Park will have to make a decision whether they go with county or club.

“I think then the GAA should look at the possibility of re-introducing games within the counties and allow the clubs to get back into action. But that will only come through time.

“It’s our understanding that they want to progress with county first, and if that’s the direction of travel, then the club will return at a later stage.

“But we’ll accept the fact that at least we have young people back out preparing, training, albeit in small numbers.”