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Counties being asked to leave All-Ireland Championship could see Covid cases covered up, says Oisin McConville

 

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Big concern: Oisin McConville has issues with GAA guidance

Big concern: Oisin McConville has issues with GAA guidance

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Big concern: Oisin McConville has issues with GAA guidance

Armagh legend Oisin McConville believes that the notion of inter-county teams being asked to "step aside" and exit the championship in light of a positive Covid-19 case is simply not practical.

County teams are set to officially recommence training for the rescheduled winter campaign on September 14, with GAA president John Horan insisting that drastic measures may have to be taken in order to complete competitions in 2020.

Horan revealed that counties may be forced to "step aside" and forfeit their championship place should an outbreak occur given the unusually short county calendar amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think everybody getting involved in this will actually take on board and we will have protocols in place that if a county goes down, because of the narrow time-frame in which we are running the competition, they will just have to step aside," Horan said.

"There is an acceptance. If you go back to the '40s, Tipperary and Kilkenny were removed from the All-Ireland championships for a very good reason - the foot and mouth problem - and people accepted that."

McConville envisages issues with that policy over the coming months, however, and the two-time All-Star feels that such a stance could encourage counties to conceal Covid cases rather than exit the championship, particularly those strongly in contention for silverware.

"I think one of the dangerous things in the statement that John Horan made is that a county found to have a Covid case will be asked to step aside. I'm not sure it's that practical," said McConville.

"If you think of the latter ends of the championship, you think of Dublin going for six-in-a-row, they will be very reluctant to step aside.

"I think it encourages teams to hide Covid cases and that's certainly not what we want."

The 2002 All-Ireland winner insists that it's "very important" that inter-county action restarts - provided that it is safe to proceed - with the Crossmaglen Rangers clubman believing that the GAA have certainly led from the front in the battle against Covid-19.

"The GAA community has acted so well since the pandemic started, but sometimes that can sound quite patronising. It's much, much more than that. They have led the way in many ways," the 44-year-old said.

"We are talking about a global pandemic, it's important that all of the people that have a vested interest do the right thing.

"We want to make sure first that it's safe to play."

Belfast Telegraph