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gaa probe Gardaí quiz Dublin GAA players over secret training session

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Gardaí are investigating whether the players travelled more than 5km for the training session Photo: Leah Farrell/ rollingnews.ie

Gardaí are investigating whether the players travelled more than 5km for the training session Photo: Leah Farrell/ rollingnews.ie

Dessie Farrell

Dessie Farrell

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Gardaí are investigating whether the players travelled more than 5km for the training session Photo: Leah Farrell/ rollingnews.ie

Gardaí have spoken to a number of Dublin GAA players who attended a secret training session in contravention of the Covid-19 rules.

Officers are weighing up whether to issue fines to the footballers and whether any action should be taken over the organisation of the workout.

Photographs taken by the Irish Independent of players and a coach at the Innisfail’s GAA Club in north Dublin in the early hours of April 1 sparked the investigation.

The GAA has finalised its own probe into the gathering and concluded that team manager Dessie Farrell should be banned for 12 weeks. Mr Farrell was not present at the training session.

A Garda spokesperson confirmed officers “are engaging with those present on the day”.

“This matter is currently under investigation and the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions will be sought on the completion of the investigation,” she said.

It is understood gardaí want to establish whether those who took part in the training session travelled more than 5km to do so.

Covid-19 rules place restrictions on training events but these are not regarded to be a “penal regulation”. The standard fine for breaching the travel restrictions is €100.

A separate Garda investigation has now also been launched into the activities of Monaghan GAA players and coaches.

On Thursday, the Irish Independent revealed Justice Minister Helen McEntee was sent a dossier including video and photographs of a training session that allegedly took place on the last weekend of March.

The Department of Justice forwarded the information to Garda Headquarters and a probe was subsequently launched. It is likely that officers will now also make contact with individuals featured in the photographs.

The alleged Monaghan gathering was sustainably larger than the Dublin one. The Irish Independent has established that 40 people are visible in the video being examined.

The session took place at Corduff GAA club which had a “Pitch Closed” sign up at the time.

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Monaghan County Board has accepted “there was a breach of the Covid-19 regulations and guidelines”.

Their senior football manager Seamus McEnaney, who is clearly visible in the images which were anonymously sent to this newspaper and the Department of Justice, has been suspended for 12 weeks.

Monaghan GAA said he had admitted “a serious error of judgment and apologises unreservedly for the indiscretion”.

Officials in Croke Park are continuing their own probe into the training session.

The suspensions mean both Mr Farrell and Mr McEnaney will miss the entire Allianz National League which starts on May 15. Both sides are in the top tier of the competition and could meet if they qualify from the round robin stages.

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