GAA president Larry McCarthy calls for return of youth action in line with safe re-opening of schools

GAA president Larry McCarthy has called for the Irish government to allow the return of youth Gaelic games, once schools have safely re-opened.

Schools in Ireland are opening back up on Monday, on a phased basis.

Currently, no Gaelic games action is permitted in the country under Covid-19 restrictions.

The Cork native, who began the role on Saturday after taking over from John Horan, called for underage activity to be allowed to return.

“I would respectfully ask the authorities that we be allowed to have activity for children in our clubs once schools have safely opened,” McCarthy said in his address to the GAA Congress.

“We showed last year that we can do this very safely and very effectively. Acknowledging that the circumstances are more onerous now, there is no doubt in my mind that we can do so again.

“This will have a three-fold effect, it will get our children engaged in organised physical activity with their friends, it will allow the parents a slight relief from the stress of the pandemic, and it will bring fun back into many people’s lives. To the public health authorities, please give consideration to this request. We did it last year, we can do it again.”

  • GAA clamp down on cynical fouls; Finals moved to July

When asked by Sky Sports if he was optimistic that his calls would be answered by government officials, he was unsure.

“Having seen schools open in the US and school sports coming back, I would have to be optimistic. But I only landed in this country the last 48 hours. It would be wrong for me to suggest I would be optimistic, or not optimistic about it,” McCarthy explained.

“But I am asking it, on the basis of our history and the basis that we did it last year. Acknowledging that circumstances are a bit different this year, the variant is stronger apparently.

“I think it will bring a lot of relief to everybody if the kids are allowed play. And we did it safely last year.”

He acknowledged the unprecedented situation which he inherits from his predecessor, and underline his ambition to facilitate a return to action once it is deemed safe to do so.

“We are in unprecedented circumstances at the moment. We are not in control of our own sporting destiny,” he noted. “We are a sport organisation without sport – except for our games going on in Australia. We are not deciding on matches and fixtures, nor coaching and games, nor tournaments.

“We are operating at the behest of the Government and the public health authorities, and we will continue to do so.”

We are not in control of our own sporting destiny.

McCarthy listed a return to play as his top priority

GAA makes a move to tackle cynicism

Earlier on Saturday, the GAA Congress voted to increase the sanctions in both Gaelic football and hurling for ‘cynical’ or ‘professional’ fouls, with 61% of delegate voting in its favour.

McCarthy feels it is a positive step.

“I’m delighted it passed. I’m absolutely delighted that it passed,” he said. “There’s cynicism in all sports. The sooner we can clamp down on it, the better. And I think this rule will address that.”

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