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"I feel much safer going to Laois training than into a supermarket"

Laois senior football manager Mike Quirke shared his thoughts on the resumption of inter-county action when he joined OTB Sports on Friday's OTB AM. 

One among many within the GAA sharing their thoughts on the resumption of inter-county games in the current Covid climate, Mike Quirke was a bit taken aback by the response to his words.

"I didn't think it was overly revolutionary," the Laois manager admitted on Friday's OTB AM of the positivity that met his suggestion to host certain games at neutral venues to reduce travel.

"If you look at the situation even this weekend with Fermanagh who are supposed to be travelling down to Clare, Kerry going up to Monaghan, I just don't think it is necessary."

In his first year as an inter-county manager, the former Kerry footballer is as concerned as anyone by the impact Covid-19 has had on proceedings.

However, as questions are asked regarding whether it is wise to proceed with inter-county championships as case numbers continue to rise, Quirke believes that both issues do not necessarily correlate.

"Even just looking at the empirical evidence that was out yesterday," he noted, "we haven't seen a lot of clusters based on sporting activity in the last seven days.

"I appreciate the point that they're running out of contact tracers so maybe everyone is not being followed up as diligently as they should be, but the main driver of the virus right now from the evidence that we've seen is based within households."

On the football field, however, Quirke explained why he feels particularly safe and confident that the planned return should proceed as planned.

"We're lucky in Laois to have a guy named Brian Breen, an army guy who is our Covid supervisor," he explained. "To be fair, he's running the whole thing with military precision.

"I feel much safer going into training with Laois than I do going into a supermarket because of the measures and protocol, and the adherence and application of the players to them."

Needless to say, the implemented changes have left training looking like a very different spectacle, however.

"We're just trying to make sure that if someone does bring the virus in that he doesn't spread it to anybody else," he said. "From our point of view, that's all we can do.

"That comes down to masks, hand-washing, no huddles. We don't spend time in dressing-rooms, the showers are pretty much off-limits except for a couple of guys travelling long distances.

"There's no food indoors so if you want to eat you go into the stand and everyone is spaced out there. We will drive to the game individually this weekend too."

Although it the results a GPA survey canvassing its members on whether they want games to go on are yet unknown, Mike Quirke admitted that the "overwhelming majority" of his Laois players are looking forward to getting started again.

"Ultimately, if things continue to go the way they're going, then this will possibly be taken out of everyone's hands," he conceded, "and it will be down to those people who make these decisions on public health and that would be the right call."

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Fermanagh GAA Gaelic Football Laois Mike Quirke National Football League Westmeath

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