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Saturday June 06, 2020

GAA look set to sign off on ‘Return to Play’ roadmap

The GAA's plan will incorporate a gradual unrolling of restrictions and will be entirely dependent on Government advice.

After spending much of the past three months cautiously planning a return to activity, the GAA will take the next steps towards emerging from the lockdown on Friday.

It’s expected that the Association’s ‘Return to Play’ roadmap will be agreed upon by the specially-formed Covid-19 Advisory Group before being ratified by GAA Management.

The Association may yet wait until Monday to make public its template, but it’s understood that their announcement will be in line with the Government’s latest restrictions update which has been pencilled in for 8 June.

The GAA’s plan will incorporate a gradual unrolling of restrictions and will be entirely dependent on Government advice and the ‘R’ (reproduction) rate of infection remaining low.

The roadmap will also give clubs and counties a chance to get used to the practicalities and implications involved, of which there will be many.

While Phase 2 won’t see much movement and will essentially centre around the opening of GAA walking tracks for groups of four people who live nearby, Phase 3 will see a significant progression.

At this stage it’s likely that Covid-19 supervisors or officers will have been appointed by GAA clubs who will prepare to see their pitches open on 29 June.

For the past few weeks, the GAA have seen a clamour in high-profile players and coaches seeking club gates to be open.

Understandably, however, they have been extremely cautious in their approach – and with good reason.

Their roadmap to a return to training and playing activity will place increased demands on club stalwarts and members, especially those who are appointed Covid-19 Supervisors.

At the start of the lockdown, when there were repeated calls for club gates to be opened, president John Horan said he was reluctant to place undue pressure on the volunteer element of the Association.

“We had to examine it and look at it closely,” he told The Sunday Game. “And there was a concept in it that people had to gather together in groups of four, but we felt that it couldn’t be marshalled by people in our clubs because our clubs are led by a load of good-quality volunteer people and to put the onus on volunteer people to make the decisions to police and organise training within our facilities, we just felt that would be too much on them.”

However, in recent weeks, the ‘R’ rate has fallen steadily and so too have the number of cases and admissions to ICU units. Other sporting bodies are well progressed in outlining their return to action, and, last weekend, Horan suggested that social distancing of two metres was the principal remaining hurdle they had to overcome.

In the past week alone, however, there have been calls for the distance of two metres to be reduced.

Meanwhile, there has also been huge optimism within the GAA and around the country that activity of some shape can slowly resume with county boards planning revised and compacted Championships which could start at the end of July.

This now looks likely to happen – provided it is safe to do so – but the re-emergence from lockdown will bring with it several demands.

Clubs are already under pressure to cope with loss of gate receipts, sponsorship, lotto and other funds, which, apart from health priorities, is part of the reason that Croke Park has not sanctioned any activity on GAA premises.

In the coming weeks, though, clubs will also have to ensure their facilities display proper signage around best practices and social distancing until contact training is allowed.

Sanitisers will have to be placed around each premises.

Equipment will have to be washed and sterilised after each session.

Players at all levels, from adult to juvenile, will be allowed return to train from this point onwards, but it looks likely that extra coaches and mentors will be needed as squads will be split into small groups.

In addition, there will be a serious amount of administrative work to be undertaken.

Players of underage parents will have to give their consent to their children returning to any activity, while temperature checks will be needed too to monitor all members involved.

Contract tracing will also be a necessity as will the overall policing of activity on GAA facilities.

These practices will require a huge effort from members, coaches and volunteers around the country and, in time, similar demands will be placed on those involved with inter-county teams.

For now, those are the key essentials in ensuring a safe return to training and, in time, competition.

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Frank Hogan, owner of famous John 3:7 sign, passes away

courtesy of RTE

Famous GAA supporter Frank Hogan has passed away after an illness

Frank Hogan, the owner of the famous John 3:7 sign and one of the most recognisable of GAA supporters, has passed away after an illness.

A committed Christian evangelist, Hogan’s John 3:7 sign was a fixture at GAA matches for over three decades, usually being held aloft on Hill 16 and other terraces around the country whenever a score was landed.

The distinctiveness of the sign on match-days made Hogan something of a celebrity among GAA fans, particularly hurling supporters.

The sign refers to a verse in the Gospel of John which reads – “Do not marvel that I said to you, you must be born again.”

He told the Irish Examiner in 2018 that he got the inspiration for the sign when watching the 1987 Wimbledon men’s final when Pat Cash beat Ivan Lendl.

As the victorious Australian climbed through the crowds to get to his family and supporters, Hogan saw a man holding a car number plate with the message John 3:16 and he decided to do likewise for hurling and Gaelic football.

He originally carried a John 3:16 sign to events but told the Limerick Leader he switched to John 3:7 following a Michael Jackson concert in Páirc Ui Chaoimh in 1988.

“People kept asking me at a Michael Jackson concert, touching my arm all the time and asking about it. It is a very long verse so I couldn’t get it out. That’s when someone showed me John 3:7,” he told reporter Peter Corbett.

Hogan was born in Tipperary but lived in Castletroy in Limerick for many years, becoming a supporter of Limerick GAA teams.

He has been absent from GAA grounds with illness in recent years and wasn’t present in Croke Park when Limerick ended their 45-year-wait for an All-Ireland title in 2018.

Bohs take bragging rights as they overcome Shels

courtesy of RTE

Danny Mandroiu celebrates his goal

Bohemians got their third win of the SSE Airtricity Premier Division season, defeating northside rivals Shelbourne 2-0 at Dalymount Park.

Second-half goals from Andre Wright and Danny Mandroiu put Keith Long’s side third in the table and in a healthy position in the early chase for Europe.

The match was yet another Dalymount Park sellout and Shelbourne’s third time playing in front of a full crowd in as many weeks.

While the match didn’t go Shelbourne’s way it was a positive contrast for both sides from the last Dalymount league meeting when 1,526 showed up in June 2013 to watch two teams battling against relegation.

Keith Long raised the Dalymount pitch as a concern prior to kick off after Storm Dennis’ effect during the season-opener against Shamrock Rovers.

His worries appeared to play out in his side’s early tactics too, as Bohs repeatedly opted to launch the ball long and high towards Wright.

Gary Deegan and Ryan Brennan in the Shels midfield showed their experience though, picking up loose ends and smothering the resulting runners.

Shels best chance of the half came after ten minutes when Karl Sheppard headed the ball onto the crossbar from a Dayle Rooney cross. The ball dropped back into the six-yard box but Oscar Brennan fouled Stephen McGuinness attempting to turn it in.

Finally, a Bohemians long ball did come good on 25 minutes when Keith Buckley lofted a pass onto Wright’s chest in the Shels box. The resulting shot, however, flew into the stand behind as Wright fell backward.

Lorcan Fitzgerald goes in on Kris Twardek
The game wasn’t long coming to life in the second half. Twardek threatened the Shels back four with a low cross that was turned out behind on 51 minutes.

Within five minutes of that early attack, Twardek was again central as Bohs got their first goal of the night. The Canadian was open at the back post to head across goal onto the diving forehead of Wright.

Mandroiu, who caused Shels fans so much misery here with two late goals in the sides’ FAI Cup meeting last year, returned to punish the travelling fans again with the second goal eight minutes later.

The Irish U21 international had a quiet night by his standards but popped up at the back of the box to collect a loose cross and loop it back into the far corner of McGuinness’ net. Danny Grant might yet claim a touch at the back post but Mandroiu took the plaudits on the night.

Shelbourne were stuck trying to get out of their territory for much of the second half. Ciaran Kilduff appealed for a handball in the box chasing a through ball with minutes to go, but appeals to Neil Doyle were waved away.

Glen McAuley should have given Bohs a third in the final minute but the substitute put his one-on-one effort into the side netting to the disappointment of the Dalymount crowd.

Defeats to Shamrock Rovers and Derry will have stung Bohs so early in the season but Keith Long will be hoping this win is a sign of things to come.

Bohemians: Stephen McGuinness; Andy Lyons, Dan Casey, Rob Cornwall, Paddy Kirk; Daniel Grant (Keith Ward 70), Conor Levingston, Keith Buckey, Kris Twardek; Daniel Mandroiu; Andre Wright (Glen McAuley 82).

Shelbourne: Jack Brady; Aidan Friel, Oscar Brennan, Daniel O’Reilly, Lorcan Fitzgerald; Dayle Rooney (Denzil Fernandes 83), Gary Deegan, Ryan Brennan (Georgie Poynton 67), Karl Sheppard; Aaron Dobbs (Shane Farrell 67), Ciaran Kilduff.

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