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Club getting used to new GAA norm

Broderick happy to return as Tinryland prepare for action

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NEW NORMAL: Carlow football star Paul Broderick tries out the new Xenon temperature-check machine at Tinryland GAA club outside Carlow town.

NEW NORMAL: Carlow football star Paul Broderick tries out the new Xenon temperature-check machine at Tinryland GAA club outside Carlow town.

NEW NORMAL: Carlow football star Paul Broderick tries out the new Xenon temperature-check machine at Tinryland GAA club outside Carlow town.

Normality at last. Or at least, a post peak-Covid version of it.

This morning, members of the Tinryland club, just five kilometres south of Carlow town, trickled back towards the centre of their community for the first time since March 25.

Not all at once, but in small, pre-authorised, symptom-free groups.

Much has changed.

Since they last gathered, their clubhouse and grounds have been used as a drive-through testing centre for coronavirus which mercifully went out of service early due to a lack of demand.

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GETTING ON WITH IT: Members of Tinryland GFC who are returning to their clubhouse after a three-month break.

GETTING ON WITH IT: Members of Tinryland GFC who are returning to their clubhouse after a three-month break.

GETTING ON WITH IT: Members of Tinryland GFC who are returning to their clubhouse after a three-month break.

"I put my name forward as a club contact if there was something that needed to be done," says Paul Broderick, Tinryland's most recognisable member.

"But I was never needed. And I haven't been back inside the place since it closed. It's been a long time."

Today, like members of all units of the Association, Tinryland's people acquainted themselves with adjusted protocols.

Old habits die particularly hard in the GAA but in such circumstances, they'll perish out of necessity.

There are four entry points to Tinryland GAA club, situated before the N80 flyover on the N9.

Every hour the club is open, a Covid supervisor will be on hand to ensure that those who arrive are both accounted for and follow the new entrance to access their pitches.

Each team must adhere strictly to allocated time slots. Everyone who comes in and out is registered, an essential measure in case the need for contact tracing arises.

All are required to have completed the GAA's health questionnaire.

They'll enter the premises through an old fire door via a walkway marked out with bright orange traffic cones, through a dressing-room which has been cordoned off and past a new 'Fever Unit' donated by the club's sponsor, which instantly checks the temperature of anyone who approaches it.

Everyone who gets the green light - literally - will then make their way onto the club's pitches.

They'll leave their gear bags outside. Use newly-disinfected equipment.

Training will be non-contact, with a maximum of 15 players in a designated area of the field.

Then they'll briskly make their way back to their cars and onwards for home as soon as the session ends.

Adaptable

Never let it be said that the Gael isn't an adaptable creature.

"It's great to be in a position to get back into it," admits Broderick, very much mindful that increasing social and sporting normalities don't mean an end to coronavirus.

"My worry is not Tinryland, it's that you can't account for what others are doing. And that's probably still the issue going forward."

The crushing gravity of the public health situation became much more real for Broderick and the Tinryland community when they were asked to authorise use of their property for coronavirus testing.

"We got a text from the club to stay away from the clubhouse unless you were asked to be there," recalls Broderick of the day the pandemic went from news item to real life in his own consciousness.

Approximately 500 people were tested in the club grounds in March and April before it closed.

The centre was dismantled on June 12 by the Defence Forces before the grounds and club house were disinfected and deep cleaned.

Now, having done their bit for the wider South Leinster community, Tinryland are taking all prescribed measures to protect their own members, and some more besides.

According to the GAA's revised guidelines for reopening, there is no requirement for clubs to check temperatures on-site.

Croke Park advised clubs not to invest in thermometers, with the onus on the individual or parent/guardian in the case of underage players.

Through the club's sponsors, Xenon, Tinryland have been able to install a system for instant temperature measurement, which every person who comes into the club will be required to pass by and use.

"As soon as your face comes up green on the screen to say 'you're good to go', but you could programme it to say anything you like," explains Broderick.

"It could say 'out you go and kick away'. Or 'you may lose a few pounds!'

"But it's great to know we're being as safe as we can."

Albeit still with a degree of risk. According to the GPA, 17% of inter-county players who responded to a survey are still unsure whether they will return to play this year over unresolved health fears.

Broderick, an All Star nominee in 2018, declares himself part of the undecided.

"I'd have my own reservations," he confirms.

"You'd be sceptical. I have a grandad and he's 92 years of age. We have our stuff in place to be able to see him over the past few weeks.

"And the club are doing everything we possibly can to follow the guidelines and that gives you confidence.

"But," Broderick adds, "if you're going to come into contact with people who you can't be sure of, there is still a risk. That hasn't just gone away."