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"Players are aware of the uncertainty" | Billy Joe Padden & Michael Verney on the likelihood of a GAA Championship

Thom Malone
Thom Malone

22:06 15 Oct 2020

Michael Verney and Billy Joe Padden joined Off The Ball on Thursday where the pair looked ahead to the possible return of the Allianz National Leagues this weekend and hopefully the GAA championship.

Despite the GPA surveying its members on how comfortable they are with GAA going ahead, both Verney and Padden believe players are itching to get back out there.

"That's what the GPA are there for, to fight for player welfare throughout the country," said Padden.

"I think the findings of that questionnaire will be very interesting. Generally though, and I can only speak as a former player, you've probably been looking forward to this all through the summer.

"You've enjoyed your club championship, you've enjoyed that bond with your teammates at inter-county level and now it's an opportunity to go out and achieve something.

"At the same time, they are aware of the uncertainty that is there in the future, but as a player, all you can do is prepare in the best possible way.

"Take each game as it comes as is the mantra of many managers to not look beyond the next game."

GPA Survey

It is unclear when the findings of the players' survey will be published, it was put to Michael Verney what the impact would be, if any, on the GAA's decision-making process.

"I wonder will it be like GAA congress, where you have to get the numbers up?" joked the former Offaly hurler.

"We've had some county players come out, John Heslin, the Westmeath footballer was one of the more high-profile ones.

"Saying how long was the commentary that the people 'need' the GAA championships to go ahead? Is that narrative going to continue when numbers are sky-rocketing?"

Verney referenced the tweet from Armagh player Stefan Campbell, as a contrast to the views of Heslin. Campbell highlighted his sacrifices to allow himself to play championship football.

Verney believes county players will be aware of their responsibilities regarding the transmission of the virus. Especially given the antics of some clubs following county finals that ultimately led to the club game being suspended.

"County players more so than club players [...] will not be congregating after games. The teams are not going to be going out mixing with people as clubs were after county finals," said the Irish Independent journalist.

"I think after what we have seen with Blackrock and clubs like that people would be well-warned about stuff like that [public celebrating].

"It would be a very foolish thing to be doing, particularly as a county player, with a high profile."

Dangerous category

While the only doubt about the senior GAA championships came after Leo Varadkar's comments on Thursday on Matt Cooper, Verney has concerns about younger players getting a championship at all.

"With minor championships and under-20 championships, I think they are falling in a dangerous category," warned Verney.

"In the under-17 championships, you have a lot of guys who are in school who come into an awful lot of different people on a given day.

"Then with under-20s, for example with Wexford under-20s they had a handful of positives that were related to people in college in their panel.

"It just gets particularly messy in those two grades and I wouldn't be surprised if those grades were sacrificed over the coming weeks.

"I think senior inter-county, you are dealing with adults. You are dealing with people who are less likely to be in college. Those that are in college are probably doing things remotely as well.

"So, I do think there is less of a risk at senior than at minor and under-20. It wouldn't be a surprise to see those championships cancelled or postponed because they are high risk," Verney said.

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Read more about

2020 Hurling Championship All-ireland Allianz National Leagues Croke Park Football Championship GPA Leo Varadkar Mayo GAA Michael Verney NPHET

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