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case made by HSE Wexford are in the clear over Banner’s close contacts –GAA

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Clare senior hurling manager Brian Lohan. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Clare senior hurling manager Brian Lohan. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Clare senior hurling manager Brian Lohan. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The GAA are satisfied that the classification of two Clare hurlers as close contacts of the positive Wexford Covid-19 case was made by the HSE and not a member of the Wexford squad.

The GAA’s director of club, games and player welfare, Fergal McGill said
that the “assessment of the two Clare players as close contacts would have been based on a decision by the Midwest HSE”.

He added: “We respect their right to do that.”

Clare manager Brian Lohan said on Sunday that their camp had been “contacted by the HSE to say that two of the Wexford players had nominated two of our players as close contacts” following the Allianz HL Division 1 Group B clash between the Banner County and Wexford in Ennis a week previous.

“That was unusual for us because all the protocols that we do are aimed to make sure that all contacts are casual contacts rather than close contacts.”

The Banner boss revealed that he sought clarity from the HSE over the matter. Clare were initially mystified as to how two of their players could be regarded as close contacts having spent a limited amount of time on the same pitch as the affected Wexford men.

Initially, they were informed that no other Wexford players were determined to be close contacts of the positive case.

However, the Sunday World understands that all members of the Wexford squad who were in the dressing-room in Cusack Park are now deemed close contacts and are currently self-isolating. The GAA are set to decide on Thursday whether the Wexford versus Kilkenny game that was postponed last week as a result of the positive case will go ahead this Sunday.

Asked to clarify comments made last week that he was “not privy to the conversations that have happened between players and public health”, Wexford GAA chairman Micheál Martin said that he was now certain that no Wexford player identified any Clare player during the contact tracing process.

He added that they were never asked by any HSE employee about an opposition player.

The Clare camp remain deeply unhappy with the situation, given the ramifications to the two players affected.

The playing of Gaelic games was granted casual-contact status, though there have been isolated incidents in which health authorities have made a deviation from that rule.

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Last year, the HSE deemed almost every member of the Offaly senior hurling panel to be a close contact after a training session involving a player who later tested positive for Covid-19.

As a result, 27 players were obliged to self-isolate and Offaly were forced to concede a Christy Ring Cup match with Kildare.

The risk of outdoor infection has been proved to be minimal.

Of the 232,164 cases of Covid-19 recorded in the State up to March 24th of this year, 262 were as a result of outdoor transmission, representing 0.1pc of the total.

In all, there were just 20 outbreaks associated with sporting activities and fitness in which there were 131 cases.

Wexford chairman Martin stressed he had sympathy for the Clare players.

“Because if the shoe was on the other foot, we would be scratching our heads,” he admitted.

“But what we wouldn’t be doing is making ill-founded accusations about anybody from another county.”

Meanwhile, Davy Fitzgerald has hit out at speculation on social media that the positive case in his squad came from members of the Wexford panel attending a house party.

“I’m disappointed with the comments going around, particularly on social media, for the players have done everything right,” he said.

“These were picked up, out in the community. The comments being made are so disappointing.

“I can one hundred per cent say that the players have done everything right, the entire squad has gone with the restrictions and what they are allowed to do.”

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