COLUMN: Ulster GAA decision gives hope to supporters all over the country

Having a cap of 100 supporters in MW Hire O'Moore Park is over the top

Brian Lowry

Reporter:

Brian Lowry

Email:

brian.lowry@leinsterexpress.ie

COLUMN: Ulster Council decision gives hope to supporters all over the Country

MW Hire O'Moore Park, Portlaoise. Photo: Paul Dargan

Sport is only a game and there are more important things in life but given the world we have been subjected to in the last few months, the GAA and other sporting organisations can play a role in the Country's road to recovery.

News has been sinking in across the country that only 100 supporters will gain access to club championship matches. Those 100 plus the players, officials, stewards, medics and media will make up the 200 cap on people attending outdoor events remains in place.

Laois GAA chairman Peter O'Neill spoke here earlier this week about the struggles and strain that has been placed on clubs who will, as it stands, only have 50 tickets to dish out to club supporters.

Laois GAA are in a unique position as they play all their senior championship games in MW Hire O'Moore Park. It is a 25,000 capacity stadium with a stand that can easily seat 6,000 people.

Mr O'Neill spoke about how he hoped that the 200 attendance cap could be moved to 400 as it would make like an awful lot easier for all involved.

He had a point. Look at MW Hire O'Moore Park's capacity and it is extremely frustrating for the County Board and the clubs that they can have so little at the game.

On Thursday evening, Ulster GAA announced that they will allow 400 people at a GAA match (including players) providing that health and safety measures are in place.

One of those measures is that the venue has perimeter fencing with viewing access from all four sides. MW Hire O'Moore Park ticks all the boxes there while they also have ample entry and exit routes to ensure social distancing.

The experts say you are 19 times less likely to catch the virus in an outdoor setting and given the need for people to get back out and try get back to some sort of normality, surely something can be done for County's that have these big venues to get more people going to games.

All along, Laois GAA had been leaning towards not streaming games due to the cost and I don't blame them. Costs in the region of 1,000 euro have been reported and if you want people to part with money, the service has to be professional and not a Delboy and Rodney operation.

Even then, it's all well and good looking for games to be streamed but when it comes to paying for it, will people be as forthcoming.

As is stands, Laois GAA will stream games and details will be announced early next week but they had no choice in the end given the attendance cap. 

With finances on the floor, they need the streaming service to at least cover itself. If it becomes a money pit, it will be another headache on the board who still have to fund championship teams when the Inter County kicks back into gear in October.

The decision of Ulster GAA could be a game changer. They are been led by different protocols from the Northern Government but the pressure will  now come on the Government and GAA down South to follow suit.