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Comfort zone: Jarlath Burns says clubs can offer support

Comfort zone: Jarlath Burns says clubs can offer support

Comfort zone: Jarlath Burns says clubs can offer support

One of Ulster's top GAA administrators believes that clubrooms across the province can prove a sanctuary and source of comfort to rank and file members of the island's biggest sporting organisation as efforts to combat the coronavirus are stepped up.

Jarlath Burns, Silverbridge club secretary and Armagh's Ulster Council delegate who recently participated in the race to become GAA president, is convinced that while on-field activity has been put on the back burner, clubs can still play a big part in helping people come to terms with the present challenging situation.

"GAA clubs tend to be big drivers within a community and I think they will have an important part to play in the coming weeks," said Burns.

"The GAA itself has traditionally given a lead in times of crisis and while games, training and other activities are now ruled out, I would be against clubs closing their doors altogether. People maybe will need somewhere to go to be in company and I think clubs can provide this at what is a difficult time."

With several Ulster counties due to have participated in crucial Allianz Football League games this weekend, the wait to see just how the promotion and relegation issues are resolved has been extended.

Burns' own county of Armagh were due to meet Roscommon in a top-of-the-table Division Two battle tomorrow night while Tyrone were hoping to maintain their recovery mission at the expense of Donegal and Down were optimistic that they could cement their claims for promotion by beating Leitrim.

"Obviously it's disappointing for these and other counties to have to forego important games but we have to look to the greater good and wellbeing of the population as a whole," pointed out Burns.

"The GAA is at the heart of a lot of communities and always tries to act in their best possible interests. We are seeing this reflected in the decision to postpone all playing activity, training and other on-field elements until the end of the month."

Yet even though the GAA authorities have cited March 29 as bringing an end to their ban on playing activity, there is the possibility that this may have to be extended depending on the impact of the coronavirus in the wider society.

April has already been designated as a 'club-only' month with no inter-county fixtures arranged so, depending on circumstances, there may be a window of opportunity for postponed league games to be staged.

Belfast Telegraph