As five Kerry inter-county teams get set to resume action after a seven-month delay in activity, the very playing of the games is being called into question right up to the days before resumption.
Kerry’s Eye inter-county GAA columnist Darran O’Sullivan has indicated his strong belief that the inter-county season should not be resuming given the situation with Covid-19 around the country. “I know there is this view that people need to see the return of inter-county action for their own mental health. I don’t buy into that personally because our inter-county players are not paid professionals like Premiership soccer players living and isolating themselves in bubbles and getting tested all the time. If people are relying on an inter-county Championship to get them through this then I feel they should really look at a different sport to fill that void because ultimately it is an event played by amateurs,” O’Sullivan told Kerry’s Eye Sport this week in a full-length interview on pages 2 and 3.
Senior and U20 managers Peter Keane and John Sugrue have both indicated a sense of feeling like they are ‘flying by the seat of their pants’ in preparing for games that might ultimately be taken away from them at the last minute. Speaking on this weekend’s resumption of play, Kerry senior manager Keane said: “The only real way you can get it (clarity on situation) I suppose is for someone to come out and cancel it but there is a big desire seemingly to get this played. I am dealing with a group of players that are happy to be in with us and no players have expressed any reservations about playing.”
Seven months after they were originally due to visit Inniskeen, Kerry make the long trip northeast to the home of the revered Monaghan poet Patrick Kavanagh.
This is Kerry’s third visit to the birthplace of the great Irish writer who is renowned for works such as ‘Stoney grey soil’, ‘On Raglan Road’ and ‘The Great Hunger’.
It is hard not to think that there is some kind of jinx attached to Inniskeen however from a Kerry perspective.
Going back to the third month of the year, arguably the most immediately affected by the GAA’s decision to cease activity on March 12th were the Kerry U20 footballers.
Only a week after a great comeback in their Munster Final against Cork in Austin Stack Park and five days before they were due to head to Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day to take on Galway, their whole campaign was put on hold by the first set of restrictions. During the unprecedented situation, their manager John Sugrue did contemplate if the competition could have been finished ‘behind closed doors’ as it was at such an advanced stage before the fuller lockdown came in two weeks later.
However, he feels the sense of not knowing what lay ahead meant it was right to park it until a clearer picture emerged. “At the time it was an unprecedented situation and none of us really knew what the parameters with this disease were. There were greater issues out there at the time than us playing a football match and we are thankful now that we have a chance to finish it,” he said.