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covid fury I'm mad as hell over Dublin's 'secret' training session...I feel disappointed and let down

We need to be shown that nobody – including the Dubs – is above the law

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A number of Dublin GAA players took part in an unauthorised training session

A number of Dublin GAA players took part in an unauthorised training session

A number of Dublin GAA players took part in an unauthorised training session

I knew something was up when my phone started bleeping continuously on Thursday morning.

Nearly every television and radio station in the country wanted to talk to me about the revelation in the Irish Independent that several Dublin footballers had been photographed training together.

I gave the same answer to all my callers. Anyone who wanted to know my views on the matter could read them in today’s Sunday World.

So here it goes.

I’ll begin with a spoiler alert. This is not a Kerry man having a cut at the Dubs or seizing an opportunity to take them down a peg or two.

As my regular readers know I have been one of the biggest fans of the team for many years.

For weeks I’ve been hearing stories about county and club teams training despite the ban.

For example, I heard a report of a county challenge game last week.

Ireland is a world leader in what the late, great, John Hume called ‘whataboutery.’

Discovering loopholes and bending the rules is part of our DNA.

I cannot provide any photographic proof that the alleged training sessions and match I was told about took place.

What we do know is that Down and Cork footballers were caught breaking the rules in January and their respective managers, Paddy Tally and Ronan McCarthy, were banned by the GAA.

Furthermore, it has also been confirmed that the gardaí intervened and halted a training session which a well-known football club in Cork was conducting recently.

It will be interesting to see how this case pans out.

In relation to the Dublin incident, we don’t know whether the training session was sanctioned by the team management.

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The Dublin training session included several of the All-Ireland winning team

The Dublin training session included several of the All-Ireland winning team

The Dublin training session included several of the All-Ireland winning team

It’s a bit like defining what essential building work is. The regulations are full of loopholes.

But let’s be clear: the ‘everybody is doing it’ line is not a defence.

I have consistently argued that inter-county GAA should have remained classified as an elite sport during this latest lockdown, which would have enabled county team training to continue.

I believe that regardless of the sport, all adult players should be allowed to engage in non-contact training in pods on their own pitches.

The pictures published in the Irish Independent prove some sort of training session took place in Innisfails GAA ground on Wednesday. The optics couldn’t be worse.

As a lifelong and passionate GAA man the incident has made me mad as hell. I’m very disappointed and feel I’ve been let down by those Dublin players.

Fewer than 12 hours earlier a road map had been provided for the return of inter-county training.

What the players did was against the rules of both the GAA and the Government.

Effectively they were giving the two fingers to both organisations.

This training session came on the same day as NPHET warned of the possibility of a fourth wave of Covid-19 and the need for extra vigilance over the next four weeks.

We expect our role models to show us a good example.

The Dublin footballers have been exemplary role models for a decade, but they let a lot of people down by their actions on Wednesday.

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Dessie Farrell has been suspended for 12 weeks following the revelations

Dessie Farrell has been suspended for 12 weeks following the revelations

Dessie Farrell has been suspended for 12 weeks following the revelations

This is a massive blow to the GAA who are trying to get the new season up and running.

It is a spectacular own goal as it provides cannon fodder for the GAA’s many critics on social media to lambast the association.

Rules are rules – and in this case, they look as if they have been broken.

Last year when county championship celebrations got out of hand the GAA acted swiftly and closed the club season.

By doing so they saved the All-Ireland series. They must act decisively again in this case. A little perspective is needed, however.

It’s a bit like the student parties in a housing estate in Limerick or overcrowding at funerals. Only a minority were engaged in such behaviour.

Hopefully in this case the majority will not be held accountable for the sins committed by the minority.

Remember on this Easter weekend that the bible said ‘let him who is without sin cast the first stone.’

Walk out your door any day and you will witness lots of people not abiding by the regulations.

Whether we like it or not, we are all in this together, even if some people seem to want to go off and do their own thing from time to time.

We need calm heads and decisive action to get rid of this virus and allow normal life to resume.

It has been a terrible few weeks for Ireland.

Various pillars of society have been caught breaking all kinds of rules and now the country’s poster team has breached the Covid-19 regulations.

All this fuels the perception in Ireland that there is one law for the elite and a different one for the rest of us.

We need to be shown that nobody – including the Dublin footballers – is above the law.

The decision by the Dublin GAA Board to slap a 12-week ban on manager Dessie Farrell was a wise move as it took much of the heat out of controversy.

Dublin will almost certainly lose home advantage for their first league game this season.

But I think the players named have suffered enough due to the adverse publicity they received and should not be penalised by the GAA.

Let’s move on and not drag out this saga anymore.

Online Editors


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