Opinion: Tyrone withdrawal raises questions for regimental GAA fixture scheduling

GAA Administration are in a big bind

The word unease has come to mind on the scheduling of the All Ireland SFC semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone. Croke Park looking to complete the intercounty season without delay and slotted August 21st for the fixture.

The Covid-19 impact on the Tyrone panel well documented with self-isolation and Covid-19 testing the order of the day.

Brian Dooher’s interview with Marty Morrissey during the week laid down the background and today’s forfeit announcement should be no surprise.

While Dublin and Mayo face off in the All Ireland semi-final today, Kerry are sitting idle and uncertain of their training schedule and preparation thrown yet again for a loop.

Kerry’s last game was at the end of July when Kerry dominated a poor Cork outfit to regain the Munster SFC crown. Kerry were never threatened in the provincial championship so this All Ireland semi-final was an acid test fixture.

Some people are claiming that this is a ploy. A tactical ploy from Tyrone to look for an additional week to prepare for the fixture but what can you do if the full panel cannot train and properly prepare for a marquee fixture?

GPA not really prominent in this saga yet. They should have been lobbying the GAA fixture schedulers behind the scenes to reassess the fixture scheduling for player welfare concerns.

It appears the GAA HQ have ploughed ahead with fixture scheduling without thinking of the potential consequences if a Covid-19 outbreak took place. The scheduling was aggressive. The integrity of the SFC is compromised!

But you are going to say what about last season? Sligo were forced to forfeit their fixture against Galway last year after a Covid-19 outbreak in their camp. Sligo had zero friends for support. They reluctantly forfeited.

We have a scenario where the GAA administration are now in a serious bind. Tyrone’s situation was an accident waiting to happen particularly at the business end of the season. What is the stance on fulfilling fixtures with a Covid-19 outbreak anymore?

For example, Cork U20 side had a Covid-19 close contact incident, fixture request was granted. I sincerely hope that cool heads are present on a conference call discussing the consequences of this decision.

Kerry will be looking for immediate clarification on what remit do they have with respect to lack of game time in recent weeks? They have been messed around for weeks. It is a mess of a situation!

How long is sufficient for Tyrone to be ready for this fixture? Medical expertise will be required to answer. This is the key question.

Personally, I would like to see Tyrone and Kerry play out their fixture on August 28th with the All Ireland SFC final scheduled for either September 5th or 12th but whether GAA figures will agree is an entirely different story.

Best wishes to the Tyrone panel and management as they continue to deal with this Covid-19 outbreak. Hopefully, all affected will recover to full health soon.

Welfare is paramount and I don’t think GAA HQ and who is responsible for fixture scheduled has shown the compassion required in this incident given the Covid-19 times we live in. This story has plenty of articles and twists to run!

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