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Clanna Gael holding out hope for deferral of championship tie

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John Costello

John Costello

John Costello

Dublin GAA club Clanna Gael Fontenoy are still holding out hope that the county board will consider a belated deferral of a hurling championship fixture that they failed to fulfil because of coronavirus concerns.

Clanna Gael ultimately decided not to turn up for their Dublin JHC 'A' quarter-final away to Ballyboden St Enda's on Sunday morning after one of the Boden players had returned a positive test for Covid-19.

This followed a trail of discussions from Friday onwards, after the Ringsend outfit first became aware of the case.

The player in question went into isolation but, under GAA protocols, his teammates were only deemed 'casual contacts' and the Dublin CCC's stance was that the match should proceed as scheduled.

In the circumstances, the Clanna Gael team wasn't happy to press ahead against opponents who had recently trained alongside a player who tested positive.

The club disputes the notion that it has 'forfeited' the game, even though it is listed on the Dublin GAA website as a walkover.

Clanna Gael PRO Felix O'Regan said: "We have put our case, our submission, into the Dublin county board. We did so in the run-up to the game itself. This would have followed various representations and engagements we already had informally with the county board and with Ballyboden.

"Basically the case we're putting is that in the particular circumstances, we did not feel it fully safe and in player safety interests for the game to go ahead.

"We're awaiting the decision of the Dublin county board, and hopefully we'll get that sooner rather than later, sometime this week."

O'Regan reiterated: "The whole basis of our submission to the county board has been with health and safety considerations uppermost in our minds - for our players, our officials and wider contact as well."

Clanna Gael first became aware of the issue on Friday. The previous day, Thursday, Ballyboden had posted a statement on its website, confirming that an adult player had tested positive for the virus.

"The player himself is well, and he and his family are isolating in accordance with protocol," Ballyboden outlined at the time.

"The HSE has been notified and contact tracing is taking place. Unless individuals are specifically notified otherwise by the HSE, contact in the context of GAA activity is considered to be casual contact and all training and games may continue in line with Covid protection processes and policies."

This last line tallied with a previous statement from the Dublin county board earlier in the week, which decreed that "games and training sessions should not be cancelled due to the confirmation of positive Covid-19 case to a member of one of our clubs.

"Those individuals who are clearly close contacts, like family members, should cease involvement with their clubs until tested. However, all others should continue as casual contacts unless advised to the contrary by the HSE.

"However, I do accept that it is the prerogative of each club to adopt a cautious approach if they decide to suspend activity, but the DCB games programme will continue as scheduled."

The stance adopted by Clanna Gael was very much player-driven, with the club led to believe that the Boden hurler may have trained with his group the previous Sunday, a week before the quarter-final was fixed, before he then tested positive. It's understood that deferring the game by a week would have placated their fears.

Ballyboden, for their part, have followed all Dublin GAA and HSE protocols and they have declined to add any comment beyond their original statement.

A Dublin CCC spokesperson made no comment when contacted. However, a quote from Dublin CEO John Costello offered a glimmer of hope to Clanna Gael that their concerns will be considered this week.

"The GAA guidance is that if they are casual contacts, games should not be postponed for that reason," Costello told RTE.ie.

"If there was anyone on the Ballyboden team identified as a close contact then they would have had to withdraw."