Entire GAA season could yet fall as the Coronavirus outbreak takes its toll

Entire GAA season could yet fall as the Coronavirus outbreak takes its toll

Kerry manager Peter Keane and selector Donie Buckley shake hands following the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 1 match against Tyrone at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney, last year. How this year’s league plays out remains unclear. Picture:Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

NOW we won’t know whether Cork were going to clinch promotion from Division 3 following their last home game of the campaign against Louth at Páirc Uí Chaoimh tomorrow.

Neither will we find out how Kerry fared in their first outing since the shock departure of well-respected coach Donie Buckley, when the Kingdom were supposed to be heading to play Monaghan in division 1.

And the good folk of Galway have been denied the rare opportunity to help their neighbours Mayo slide towards relegation to division 2.

These and many other issues have been put in cold storage for the time being until the ban on all outdoor sports is lifted, supposedly on Sunday, March 29.

There is a huge cloud of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak because we’re all in unchartered waters here with no real precedent to gauge progress, if any at all.

There’s a school of thought which is saying this might only be the tip of the iceberg and that the playing pitches will remain silent for much longer.

And it’s in this kind of vacuum that uncertainty grows in both the short term, the medium range and the long term.

In the first category obviously falls the weekend inter-county action in football and hurling.

The four rounds of games in the four football divisions as well as the two hurling quarter-finals as well as a few lower division finals are gone.

Add to that a big programme of county, divisional and under-age games and you can get a glimpse of the impact it’s having on thousands of players and managements up and down the country.

The first casualty of the ban came on Thursday afternoon, when the Freshers hurling championship final between UL and DCU, scheduled for Portlaoise, was pulled even though the throw-in time of 3.30 was outside the cut-off point of midnight.

Clearly, common sense and senior counsel prevailed for the general good and that must be welcomed despite the obvious disappointment of all involved with the two teams.

The next big games to be impacted are the All-Ireland U20 semi-final fixtures, which had been confirmed as Galway v Kerry at 2pm and Dublin v Tyrone at 3.45 at Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.

It would have been a hectic 48 hours for the Kerry contingent with UCC Freshers, who should have been gearing up for their championship semi-final against UCD next Thursday following their stirring 1-13 to 1-12 away win over the holders, NUIG, during the week.

The Galway students were the defending champions, having stopped DCU’s four-in-a-row gallop in a thrilling final 12 months ago, winning by 2-13 to 1-15.

But, UCC, who are the league champions, stripped them of their title to stay on course for a possible double.

UCD defeated Queens by 2-13 to 0-7 in their quarter-final while the other semi-final is all-Dublin affair between DCU and Trinity.

DCU defeated St Mary’s by 2-6 to 0-4 while Trinity needed penalties to get the better of Maynooth University, winning 4-2 after the sides finished level at 0-14 to 1-11 after extra-time.

Even at this juncture it’s hard to see how both the U20 and Freshers championships are going to be completed given the nature of the players involved.

Exam time is either fast approaching or already started in some cases and this will affect both competitions.

Locally, the divisional U21 championships are set to take a hit, especially the Seandún final between reigning county champions, St Michael’s, and the defending city champions, Douglas.

Both won their semi-finals by a point against St Finbarr’s and Nemo Rangers respectively and an intriguing game was in store.

Other divisions are finished like Muskerry, where a strong Éire Óg side recorded a big win over Ballincollig while it’s final stages in Avondhu and Carrigdhoun.

Kilshannig and Mallow have reached the north Cork final and it’s another Carrigaline-Valley Rovers shoot-out in the south east.

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