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Dublin’s senior football manager suspended over Covid-19 breach

Dessie Farrell’s football squad were pictured in a training session earlier this week.

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Dessie Farrell has been suspended (Julien Behal/PA)

Dessie Farrell has been suspended (Julien Behal/PA)

Dessie Farrell has been suspended (Julien Behal/PA)

Dublin’s senior football manager has been suspended for 12 weeks after a number of senior players breached Covid-19 rules by taking part in a training session.

Members of Dessie Farrell’s football squad were pictured in a session earlier this week.

In a statement, the Dublin Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) management committee said that following an investigation on Thursday afternoon, they found there was a breach of Covid-19 guidelines on Wednesday morning.

The Irish Independent reported that at least nine players attended a GAA pitch in north Dublin at about 7am on Wednesday, where the group took part in training drills.

In a statement, Dublin GAA said: “The county management committee have suspended Dublin senior football manager Dessie Farrell for 12 weeks with immediate effect.

“The Dublin senior football management and players recognise that this was a serious error of judgment and apologise unreservedly for their actions.”

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It comes as gardai investigate the alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations.

Officers warned that anyone found to have breached the rules will be issued with a fine.

Earlier on Thursday, the GAA said it was “extremely disappointed” by the training session.

In a statement, gardai said: “An Garda Siochana is making inquiries into reports of alleged breaches of Covid regulations.

“The Health Act 1947 Regulations 2020, as amended, are currently in force.

“Regulation 11 places restriction on training events. Regulation 11 is not declared to be a penal regulation.

“If gardai identify potential breaches of the public health regulations – travel restrictions – a fixed payment notice may be issued where appropriate.

“An Garda Siochana has no further comment at this time.”

In a statement, a GAA spokesman said: “It is with frustration and extreme disappointment that the GAA acknowledges reports today of a potential breach of both our own Covid guidelines and those of the Government relating to the restrictions in place around team training.

“Less than 48 hours ago, the association reiterated its commitment to these current guidelines and called for continued compliance in the weeks ahead.

“The GAA will pursue the allegations with the units in question at the earliest opportunity and will invoke any necessary disciplinary processes as appropriate.

“In the meantime, while we acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of counties and clubs have complied in an appropriate and responsible way with the restrictions currently in place, we once again call on our members and units to uphold the integrity of the association as part of our ongoing efforts to play our role in thwarting the virus and ensuring a return to activity when it is safe to do so.”

Pictures of the training session emerged just hours after Croke Park circulated a warning to all clubs and counties that any breaches of Covid-19 rules would put plans to return to training in “serious jeopardy”.

It is possible that the Dublin players shown training in the photos were there under pressure from the Dublin management teamAlan Dillon, Fine Gael

The Government confirmed on Tuesday that senior county footballers will be allowed to resume training sessions from April 19.

Alan Dillon, Fine Gael’s spokesman for sport and a former Mayo footballer, said: “An immediate investigation must take place and I believe it is up to Dessie Farrell and the Dublin management team to make a statement in relation to this breach of the public health guidelines.

“Innisfails GAA club must also clarify why training was allowed to take place on their grounds.

“It is possible that the Dublin players shown training in the photos were there under pressure from the Dublin management team.

“We all understand the ultra-competitive environment of the Dublin panel but there is no excuse for an organised training session in breach of Covid guidelines.

“I would warn against any knee-jerk reactions or indeed targeting of abuse at the players in question here. We need a full investigation to establish what happened.”


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