MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey - will this famous venue see a return of GAA games any time soon?
A leading south Donegal GAA figure has called on the government to restore the GAA’s elite sport status as soon as possible.
Veteran Bundoran club man Michael McMahon said the Irish government had questions to answer after the shock demotion that sparked widespread fury among a raft of GAA team managers over the weekend.
But McMahon stressed that underage games - including underage county games - should begin as soon as possible and before if and when we will have a National Football League this year.
The demotion and the announcement that there will not be GAA activity of any kind until after Easter has sparked speculation that the NFL might not go ahead - even though a few GAA chiefs have been making reassuring noises, but with no specifics.
“Firstly, we need this elite status as soon as possible and it is just crazy that the GAA could be termed elite last December and then demoted some weeks later,” he stated.
“That just does not make sense and I would be asking the Junior Sports Minister Jack Chambers to explain this properly.
“I can understand that there is a lot of anger out there about this decision. The only sports we are seeing on TV are soccer and rugby but we need to get the GAA back in the picture.
Not happy - Mick McMahon
“I am a fan of all sports and understand why the League of Ireland was given elite status as many of its players are full time and make their living from it.
“But are they any more elite than our inter county competition? No way, and it is particularly puzzling when you consider the level of professional preparation our counties go through.
“And we need to know exactly what is the background to this decision to demote our games.”
He added: “I am very dismayed by this decision, the GAA is not only elite but it caters for hundreds of thousands of members in this country and abroad also.
“It is volunteer driven and very much community based and there are no other players drafted in to play for our clubs and counties.”
When told that there might not be any action of any kind until Easter, he stressed that underage games should be the GAA’s priority.
“Once the schools go back then the games for our children should go back in tandem with this as it is badly needed for the mental health of our youth which can’t be stressed enough.
“I would be very worried about the mental health of young people who have had nothing to do for quite some time and all the medical evidence suggests that they are at a very low risk of transmitting this Covid.
“While the GAA has shown great leadership both nationally and locally in this pandemic, the time has come for them to urgently come up with a plan for underage games to begin.
“And that should happen before any NFL.
“There is an awful lot of frustration among the youth, and it should be started in a proper protection fashion.”
When asked when the NFL should start, he said he did not know
“Yes, it depends on Covid and as soon as it is safe to do so, but we do need our national games out there as soon as possible.
“But the mixed messages coming out from the government are not helping at all.
“That is a problem but now is the time to be seriously thinking about a road map ahead.”
He continued: “Overall, I am very hopeful that the GAA will get going later in the spring.”
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