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new measures ‘It’s a fudge and a disappointment...the GAA should be agitating more’ - Anger at dressing room restrictions

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Sanitising products await players in the dressing-room before the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A match between Down and Carlow at McKenna Park in Ballycran, Co Down last May. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Sanitising products await players in the dressing-room before the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A match between Down and Carlow at McKenna Park in Ballycran, Co Down last May. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Sanitising products await players in the dressing-room before the Allianz Hurling League Division 2A match between Down and Carlow at McKenna Park in Ballycran, Co Down last May. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

GAA clubs could officially open their dressing-rooms to their players on a very limited basis last night for the first time since the pandemic took hold over 18 months ago.

But the new measures in place – dressing-rooms will be limited to six at any one time – until at least October 22 when the Government plans to lift all restrictions, do not go far enough and are impractical, according to some club managers.

One of those, former Galway and Offaly hurling manager John McIntyre, has described the opening up of facilities as a “fudge and a disappointment,” pointing out how unworkable it is for squads which can often number 30 even at club level. From yesterday the advice is for maximum occupancy of six at any one time for changing only.

“Pre-game, or half-time team talks, should continue to take place outdoors and it is recommended that shower facilities are only used where absolutely necessary,” a briefing note to clubs earlier this month outlined.

In the North dressing-rooms are permitted to be open but the advice is for usage to be “avoided or minimised where possible”.

With more adverse weather conditions potentially setting in and the club season getting into overdrive McIntyre, who takes charge of Lorrha in the Tipperary senior championship, sees impracticality.

“It is basically unworkable. It’s not practical to expect six players from a squad of 30 to go in and tog out, then they come out and the next six go in. There are a lot of teams preparing for do or die matches and that kind of pre-match scenario just wouldn’t work,” he said.

“They might as well leave them closed as far as I am concerned. It’s a fudge and a disappointment as most of the restrictions are being lifted, that you are dealing with healthy young sportspeople.

"Everyone has followed the guidelines and restrictions as best as we can and I feel the GAA should be agitating more on behalf of its members.

"We are heading into the winter, there are a lot of matches up and down the country, I feel that it would be better to have the dressing-rooms open from a health perspective. Players togging out in the rain, driving home in wet gear, it’s counter perspective and more of a health hazard than if the dressing-room were open,” he contended.

Other changes see club gyms officially open again in pods of six, unless there is full immunity among a group. In that case the limit on six is removed.

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