Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Waterford GAA treasurer, John Jackson. Photo: Maurice Hennebry.

These are uncertain times for all of us but especially, in sporting terms, for administrators. People look to them to make decisions and come up with answers when in truth it’s impossible to do so. Like us all, sports administrators can only go on the advice of the government and as for making long term decisions on fixtures, well that’s virtually impossible.
By this stage the Waterford County GAA Board had hoped to have had two rounds of the county senior hurling and football championships played and by now players should have been back with their inter-county team-mates preparing for the opening rounds of the Munster Championship. All that has been scuppered by the outbreak of the Coronavirus and for now at least uncertainty prevails over all GAA championships for the remainder of 2020.

Speaking this week to Waterford GAA treasurer, John Jackson, he admitted that the whole season is shrouded by uncertainty at present. “Yeah by this stage we should have had two rounds of both championships played but like everyone else, we have no idea what’s going to happen right now. The GAA are to have a special congress on Friday to decide on what to do with the GAA calendar and whether to go with a straight knockout or how to proceed but in truth nobody knows when the government restrictions will be lifted. But even if it is a straight knockout, do I think the Government will allow 30 or 40,000 people into Semple Stadium to watch Cork and Waterford say in late June or even July? I can’t see it. It’s very hard to make plans because it will all depend on when sport gets the green light as to what championships and which structures will work.”

“Personally I think it would make sense to play the club championships first as the attendances will be far smaller and more manageable and there’s a fair chance that people will be itching to get out and go to games when all this is over, so it could be very good for attendances at club games, while still being much smaller gatherings that you’d have at inter-county games.”
Speaking in Friday’s Irish Examiner, Connacht Council secretary, John Prenty, said that the current shutdown of sporting activity in Ireland has presented the GAA with an opportunity “to halt the runaway train that inter-county teams have become” and “avoid a disaster” for the Association in the near future. But despite the fact that Waterford spent over 800k on inter-county team expenses in 2019, John Jackson is not so sure.
“There’s no doubt that this shut down will mean huge savings in inter-county teams expenditure but while many might see that as a good thing, I think that’s something that’s not going to change anytime soon. The preparation of teams is so professional now and other counties have such huge budgets for their teams, you have to invest that sort of money or you’ll be left behind. It’s as simple as that. We are very lucky to have brilliant sponsors in TQS.”
John believes that the way things are looking it’s going to be very difficult to cram all the club and county fixtures into a truncated season but he vows that the county board will do everything they can to run off their championships. “We’ll have to take our lead from Croke Park and the Munster Council but we’ll be doing everything in our power to run off all our championships. That might mean that we have to revise the way the championships are played but if that’s what we have to do then I’m sure that’s what we’ll do. It all depends on when the GAA gets the all clear to resume playing matches and then of course teams will need some sort of lead in time to train together and so on”
For John and so many county and club administrators that give so many nights of their week to going to meetings and matches etc, this must be a very surreal time. “Of course it is a big change, it is for everyone but we have to get on with and do the best we can as it’s the health of our people that’s the most important and that’s why we have to follow the advice of the government and their health experts and that’s what we are doing and will continue to do as long as this goes on.”

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