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"A big ask": Galway footballer and COVID-19 tester Leonard on player tests

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

21:25 7 May 2020

When you're an inter-county footballer spending your days testing people, you gain a certain authority discussions regarding post COVID-19 GAA.

Galway's Tracey Leonard has been working at University College Hospital Galway's drive-through testing centre over the past few weeks.

The Corofin native's experience on the frontline has given her decent perspective on the issues facing the GAA in relation to a return to play.

Team sports are allowed resume behind closed doors on July 20 as per the government's Roadmap For Reopening Society and Business.

But the GAA have been reluctant to commit to behind closed doors matches, with director of communications Alan Milton telling Newstalk Breakfast that a championship in empty grounds as "a last resort".

Ladies Gaelic CEO Helen O'Rourke has been included on the GAA's COVID-19 Advisory Group, but Leonard can't envisage a return to play this summer.

"I think it's a bit risky at the minute", she told Off The Ball.

"I think it's something [playing behind closed doors] that a whole lot is really not known about it.

"Like, I know there are a lot of girls playing are known asthmatics.

"While me, [I] could be perfectly fine and healthy and don't have any respiratory illnesses.

"I could be a carrier, could feel 100 per cent fine and the player marking me is an asthmatic while we're playing a game for 60-65 minutes.

"And it is quite close contact football.

"I think it is too risky. While I would love to see it resume, I think health is the priority at the moment."

Testing "a big ask"

Another issue raised by Alan Milton was that of testing.

He says more clarity is required from the government with regard to how player testing on a mass scale would or can be managed.

"Our country has been under severe pressure before this, and I know with a lot of what's gone on budgets have gone well through the roof", Leonard told OTB's Will O'Callaghan.

She added, "I think it would be quite a big ask, putting that to governments, having every player tested.

"That would need to be for every game which - between men's women's - would be a lot of games in the run of the year.

"I don't know if it's really feasible, and for the sake of one year.

"I know some people might jump down my throat when I say this, but for the sake of one year I don't know are people are as well to chillax and maybe look to 2021.

"I could be proved wrong - hopefully I may be - but I think it's just too risky at the moment".

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Coronavirus Covid-19 Galway Ladies Gaelic NUIG Tracey Leonard

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