| 14°C Dublin

Horan spells it out clear unlike yer man Boris


GAA president John Horan. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

GAA president John Horan. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile


GAA president John Horan. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Political leadership comes in many guises. But, in times of crisis, the most important quality is coherent communication.

You must deliver your message to a fretful public in a manner that is reassuringly uncomplicated … even if the message itself is none too reassuring.

Which brings us to last Sunday night. Perversely, after a weekend of zero action to launch a new Sunday Game season, and even as he predicted an overall loss of €50 million to GAA coffers if both the club and county seasons are ultimately abandoned, it was a good day's work by John Horan.

The GAA president got his message across; it was laced with irrefutable logic; and the wider GAA community understood it perfectly, even if they didn't necessarily like what it meant.

The contrast with another big television address just hours earlier could not have been starker.

While Boris Johnson urged the British public to stay alert if you can't stay at home, albeit you could go to work, or better still work from home, but then maybe go to work if you can't work from home, just don't take the bus or Tube, unless you've no car and live 20 miles away, or something like that … in the midst of this muddled masterclass in mixed messaging, GAA-starved junkies could be thankful for small mercies.

At least we know where we stand. For now. No inter-county championships until October at the earliest. No club games for the foreseeable future either but, if and when there is a return, they will be first in the queue.

Horan offered a cogent rationale for why the GAA has pushed back against any early opening of facilities or resumption of on-field activity, even in pods of four, with July 20 ring-fenced as the next D-Day for a possible relaxation.

"We can't risk anybody's health," was the unambiguous mantra sure to have resonated with everyone touched by Covid-19.

But perhaps Horan's most telling message was the most blindingly obvious. "If social distancing is a priority to deal with this pandemic, I don't know how we can play a contact sport," Horan remarked. "That is what Gaelic Games is."

Sometimes you need to spell it out. If only someone would tell Boris.

Having said that, we were equally swayed by the weekend call from Laois football boss Mike Quirke, basically telling all his fellow managers, players and fans to 'cool the jets' instead of demanding instant decisions from the GAA.

"The truth is, at this point, nobody knows. And for me, I'm perfectly ok with that," wrote Quirke in the Irish Examiner.

"I'm more than happy to play the waiting game and see how things evolve," he expanded. "I really can't fathom the calls for the championship to be scrapped entirely at this point, nor do I agree with those calling for more certainty around when we can get back training."

The former Kerry player is on the money. Truth is, this public health menace is called the 'novel' coronavirus for a reason: it's brand new … and thus relatively unpredictable, all the savagery of its impact to date.

None of us can claim expertise. Even the experts are learning, every single day. Perhaps the sacrifices of recent months will suppress it so successfully that, come autumn, social distancing will no longer be an overarching imperative.

Or maybe the dreaded second wave will propel us back into a fully-fledged lockdown.

We don't know. All we can do is wait and hope, instead of play.