Paudie Palmer: GAA must be allowed get young players back training

Inter-county is often the focus but the GAA is a vital outlet for kids and teenagers
Paudie Palmer: GAA must be allowed get young players back training

Páirc Uí Chaoimh won't see inter-county action for now but how about letting young players get back training? Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

THE announcement last week that inter-county activity would not be resuming any time soon was a blow to many.

Yours truly received a call from an individual who would know a thing or two about filling blank pages and he quickly got to the point. “Well, what will you write about now?” One can’t be selfish in these times, after all, aren’t we all meant to be in this together. But the very same thought crossed my mind.

Initially, there was some confusion as to who made the call which decided that Patrick Horgan and David Clifford weren’t elite athletes whereas Tadhg Furlong, Jamison Gibson-Park and James Lowe were.

Now to be fair to Tadhg, he is eligible to play in the All-Islands GAA Championship as his mother is Margaret O’Leary from Whiddy Island. Unless we can get New Zealand designated as an official offshore island, the other two buachaillí won’t be lining out anytime soon.

Getting clarification on the apparently sudden change of plan for a return to on-field activity was right up there with trying to elicit a definite time-frame for jabbing of the nation.

We must admit that Bainisteoir Boris Johnson has stolen a serious march in this regard. At least 15m people in the UK have received a dose of the coronavirus vaccine; does Brexit have a silver lining?

Whatever about the wisdom or otherwise of Boris, it now appears, that our finest hurlers and footballers were never in the elite category and were just given a pass last October to complete the All-Ireland championships.

It’s a bit like discovering that your insurance policy didn’t allow you to drive every car as you might have thought.

One might also ask, could it have ramifications for yoga on Youghal beach?

Now, I don’t think that there will be any city parades, demanding a return to inter-county action but this whole bubble situation in terms of professional sports may have caused a light switch to be turned on.

There are two professional soccer teams on our patch, Cork City and Cobh Ramblers.

Are we now to assume that some, if not all the players at these two clubs are on wages that enable them to live in bubbles? Do any of them attend other workplaces?

By the way, this is not an attempt to suggest that the League of Ireland season shouldn’t get underway, it’s just an effort to establish clarity. Sometimes this bubbling can be somewhat confusing.

One always felt that as long as the nation’s schools remained closed, despite that teachers are doing their best to ensure learning is taking place, the pitch padlocks would remain in place.

However, there is now some traction being afforded to the idea that it’s the underage section of the clubs that need to be given the green light. I think the idea here would be to return to some form of physical activity and not an extensive games programme.

All of this may sound fine in theory but in doing so would we not be taking the input of voluntary coaches for granted?

If nothing else, the skyrocketing of the numbers in December and January have taught us that this virus is still only too ready and willing to wreak further havoc.

The bottom line, and I am aware that this will not find favour with everybody, is the reopening of society will have to proceed with serious caution.

I think it is reasonable to assume though, that this lockdown period is extremely challenging for everybody and yes, very convincing arguments can be put forward for the reopening of all the different forms of commercial and social providers, but would it be out of order to make a special case for our youth?

Despite the efforts of some outstanding club coaches who have gone the extra distance in terms of Zoom sessions, many of our young population are living in 'screenland' which cannot be at all positive.

It is an avenue that may need further examination.

Mentioning GAA money matters in this county usually has us reaching for the criticism quills.

Some of you will be aware that the financial section of Cork GAA has decided that the old County Board draw had reached the date at the end of the tin after being in existence since 1992.

The new revamped edition titled the Rebels' Bounty which was launched at the end of last year and where the first draw will take place in March incurred the wrath of many.

The main difference was that in the old format if a club sold one ticket, it kept €45 for itself. I believe there were a number of clubs whose total sales struggled to reach that magical number. Now clubs must sell a minimum number before they can start showing a profit.

My God, did it get some hammering from a number of club and divisional personnel when it was launched! We were told: 'It was the wrong time; it was nothing more than a levy on clubs; there was nothing wrong with the old draw...'

Many felt it was doomed for failure and who could blame them.

Now, the news filtering through would have us believe that a huge number of clubs will not alone sell their minimum amount but quite a few will turn it into a fundraising event in itself. Of course, we will have to wait and see what the final figures will be but thus far the update is positive.

I have to admit to not just being quite surprised but equally heartened by the turn of events. As mentioned previously, Cork GAA is a serious brand that has to explore every avenue of revenue generation. The euro may be dropping that the outside aid agencies will not come in and write off the debt.

Cork GAA must look after its own affairs and it now appears that the clubs have answered the red call.

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