Tom Parsons joined Thursday's OTB AM to discuss the GPA's response to COVID-19 issues that have thrown the All-Ireland semi-final between Tyrone and Kerry into turmoil.
Initially scheduled to take place this weekend, the GAA have confirmed that Tyrone vs Kerry will take place on Saturday August 21st.
After the GPA confirmed that they have been in contact with Tyrone after a number of positive COVID-19 cases were recorded within the panel, C.E.O. of the association Tom Parsons spoke on Tuesday's OTB AM about the situation as it currently stands.
"It looks like 50% of the squad has contracted the virus," he explained. "A squad is typically 32 to 35 players and in that you'll usually have three or four injuries.
"It means there's only have 15 or 16 players fit, so, there are just so many unknowns."
Given the complexities surrounding the different ways in which certain players may or may not display symptoms or react to the virus, Parsons insisted that the onus is on ensuring player safety.
"If there's one thing that would keep me awake at night," he admitted, "it is the worry about a player's welfare going onto the field of play.
"There is a worry at the moment."
Asked whether or not there is a chance that Tyrone may end up forfeiting the tie and Kerry progress through to the All-Ireland football final, Parsons confirmed that it is a possible outcome.
"Absolutely, the reality here is that it is a very serious case," he stated. "The comments made by Tyrone this week shouldn't' be taken lightly."
In the event that a further postponement would be to the benefit of players, Parsons confirmed that the GPA will back this proposal.
"The GPA's position on a postponement and standing down is very clear. Under no circumstances will we risk player welfare - that's non-negotiable and I think it is non-negotiable for the GAA as well.
"If postponing the game another week helps to ensure player welfare, that's the right thing to do. But another week is no guarantee. This is subjective, fluid."
Primarily, Parsons reiterated the GPA's overwhelming concern for the health and well-being of their members above all else.
"This means the world to players," he allowed, "but it is only a game of football. Player welfare is 100% paramount."
NEW: Major Tyrone update from GPA CEO Tom Parsons
🗣️ 50% of Tyrone players out due to COVID-19
🗣️ GPA will back any postponement in the interest of player welfare
🗣️ Not playing the match and Kerry getting a bye is a live possibility#OTBAM with @GilletteUK | #BestFaceForward pic.twitter.com/qxr5CsWwTN
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) August 12, 2021
On Wednesday morning the GPA released a statement outlining the support they have offered to Tyrone GAA:
The Gaelic Players Association have been, and continue to be, in ongoing contact with the Tyrone Senior Football Squad through their GPA rep since the issues surrounding positive Covid-19 cases arose," the statement read. Their health and wellbeing is our primary concern. We are also in contact with the Tyrone Senior Football Management and share their player welfare concerns. It’s important to note that players will always feel a deep sense of responsibility to play the game, represent their county and supporters, and will no doubt want to fulfil the All-Ireland semi-final fixture. However, it is imperative that their health and wellbeing is the priority in this situation. As such, we have offered support to the Tyrone squad through our comprehensive health screening. We will consult closely with the GAA to ensure adequate time is allowed to assess the welfare of players before a decision can be made by Tyrone. Above all we ask for respect to be shown to the amateur status of the players and that we are all mindful of the four teams who remain in the competition. Players will always want to play, but their welfare must come first in any decision made.