Paudie Palmer: GAA has been given a raw deal in Covid recovery plan

'Why are Cobh Ramblers and Cork City players allowed train but not the Cork GAA teams?'
Paudie Palmer: GAA has been given a raw deal in Covid recovery plan

A general view of Covid-19 signage at Croke Park in Dublin. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

LAST WEEK I mentioned the sense of perspective the GAA community got was when Minister for Sport Jack Chambers revealed the nation’s finest hurlers and footballers were no longer deemed members of the sporting elite.

If that was a shock then last week’s announcement by Taoiseach Michéal Martin that we could face another few months of lockdown was a serious lights-out moment.

I know there are plenty of you whose eyesight is seriously challenged by trying to find the flicker of light at the end of the tunnel right now. Not wishing to be completely negative but the vaccine roll-out strategy has yet to convince us the release papers lifting our house-arrest status will be signed any time soon.

In relation to the elite sports scenario, I have decided to pen a few words for the attention of the aforementioned Minister for Sport and I hope the good editor won’t mind too much if I digress a little here or there.

I had a sconce at both the Cork City and Cobh Ramblers squads for the coming season. I was completely unaware, that these fine young athletes were on pay scales that will allow them to live as professional athletes and to be in a privileged position to be able to adhere to strict Covid guidelines!

Honestly, I had no idea that such bucks floated around in the League of Ireland!

PULLING TOGETHER

Deputy Chambers, you should see the craic down here. You are probably aware, the County Board is about €34 million in debt, give or take.

Anyway, they decided to launch a new draw with a catchy name Rebels’ Bounty. There was murder about that initially but the clubs run by volunteers have answered the call. You might buy a ticket yourself... great prizes.

Will I tell you about one crowd Dromina? Did you ever hear the boys in Terenure or Trinity talking about them? They are up in the north side of the county with a population of 250 to 300 and they reckon they will sell close to 100 tickets.

You will be glad to know as well that this small amateur outfit, and I hope you don’t mind me using the word amateur, have developed a nice floodlit walkway that is used by many citizens from their own patch and neighbouring areas.

I should also mention that many other GAA clubs have developed similar facilities for use by thousands of people across the county. God, I almost forget to mention, the general public doesn’t have to pay a bob for the use of these amenities.

You must realise that GAA players losing their elite status could impact on the more important club championship programme for the majority of those involved in the sport in Ireland.

Come here, if Cork and Kerry meet in this Munster championship you should try and get to see it, if only for the psychological battle. In the red corner, you will have a southsider Kieran Shannon and in the green and gold corner, the person in charge of positivity will be Pat Falvey, a northside mountaineer.

It should be some craic!

Pat Falvey is now working with the Kerry footballers
Pat Falvey is now working with the Kerry footballers

Also, Deputy Chambers, your leader’s son Michéal Aodh Martin should be in goal for Cork. The Nemo man was number one in 2020 as Mark White from Clon decided he wanted to go travelling last year.

White didn’t get far so there could be a real battle for the keeper’s spot now.

Can I make a few more suggestions?

Did you ever hear the GAA media guys giving out about inter-county managers being a nightmare in term of trying to get them to go off-script in interviews?

There’s no such problem with the government and NPHET, who are offering mixed messages every day!

I am beginning to think that some of them see themselves as celebs and influencers.

Less access for the media would probably help at this stage. If Micheál Martin held a press conference once a week and properly briefed us all at least we’d know where we stand.

To help you with this, Deputy Chambers, you can contact your Castleknock neighbour and serious athlete, though not elite sportsman, Ciarán Kilkenny. He will give you Jim Gavin’s number and he’ll keep everyone on message.

From following the Dubs you might have noticed, he had a guy in his backroom staff who looked after some of the media chores One of his jobs was to escort any Dublin player who had been selected as Man of the Match and as you know there was quite a few of them to the presentation area.

The player in question was reminded of the buzz words and terms such as respect, work ethic and so on before they carried out any post-match interviews. There were no mixed messages.

The media might not have liked it but I tell you something, this country needs that form of communication now...

One final favour. You might ask current Dublin manager Dessie Farrell, what he thinks of the decision by Kerry boss Peter Keane to appoint the Cork mountaineer Pat Falvey as his sports psychologist!

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