Sport will rise again - but it's about getting through the next while as a country

Photo: Sportsfile

Photo: Sportsfile

These are unprecedented times. I recall being on a panel on Radio One in January where I expressed my concern about the congesting of the GAA season and - in particular - playing games and fixing the majority of league games from late January through March, when the weather is so unpredictable.

Some games did fall foul of the weather and had to be re-fixed while some others were played in atrocious conditions. Nobody or nothing could prepare us for the impact Covid-19 has had and will have.

Sport is at a standstill, the world is at a standstill because of the way this deadly virus has swept across the globe. Lives are being lost, schools and businesses are closed, peoples livelihoods are on the line, people are scared. Sometimes sport is a great distraction in trying times but there is quite literally nothing on to take our minds off our daily worries.

Everything has been cancelled and rightfully so. We can all of course have a light hearted joke, that at least Mayo won't get relegated from division 1 of the league and that Liverpool's long wait for a league title looks set to continue because of the postponement of the premier league (sorry Liverpool fans ), but the grim reality is that these competitions may never get finished.

The completion of sporting events becomes irrelevant when livelihoods and lives are on the line. The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to get a lot worse before it gets better, which may in turn result in 2020 being a total washout in terms of sport. The cancelling of Galway's opener against New York is probably a signal of what is likely to occur down the line.

With increasing cases diagnosed on a daily basis, the government had no choice but to take the action they did and no matter what your political allegiance, you have to agree that they have worked tirelessly, efficiently - and thankfully - they reacted faster than the so-called powerful governments of the USA and Great Britain. I imagine Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Simon Harris haven't slept much in the last two weeks.

Some may point out that allowing Italian supporters into the country when the Six nations match between Ireland and Italy was called off was a major mistake but realistically, we never knew how bad things were going to get back then. Allowing the Cheltenham festival go ahead was one of the most bizarre things to happen since the outbreak. We had been well informed about the contagious nature of Covid -19 before Cheltenham took place and that race meeting was a hive for spreading the virus.

When you see how closely packed the punters were to each other and factor in that social distancing along with washing your hands regularly are considered the two most important measures to stop spreading the virus, this was a major blunder. I'm sure most of you are aware by now that Dr Michael Ryan, the executive director of the World Health organisation, who is a major player in tackling the virus and has addressed the world on Covid-19 matters, is a Curry/Charlestown man who lived just a few doors down from me in Main Street for a part of his younger years. He has conducted himself remarkably well on the world stage.

St Patrick's day was meant to see the completion of the All-Ireland u20's semi finals, a competition that now may never get concluded. I have to say I felt for the Mayo u20's who agonisingly lost on penalties to Galway in the semi final after the Tribesmen trounced Roscommon in the Connacht final, winning by 4-13 to 0-5. The Mayo players and management would have been sick reading that result, realising it could so easily have been them winning the Connacht title. Sometimes near misses make an individual or a group stronger; hopefully that will be the case for those lads.

The Mayo club championship threw up a few mouth-watering groups, none more so than group four of the senior championship that has pitted Castlebar, Breaffy, Charlestown and Westport together in the same group. It really couldn't have been any worse for Charlestown - unless you were to maybe swap Castlebar for Ballintubber - but it's much the same really, as I would put the Mitchels and Ballintubber in the same bracket. Both will firmly have their sights on the Moclair cup if the competition ever takes place. With communal training banned and gyms closed across the country, it really is a very stressful time for county and club managers in the four corners of Ireland. Sport will rise again but now is the time to follow protocol and stay safe.

I'm sure like me many of you are glued to Special Forces- Hell Week to see Mayo's new recruit Padraig O'Hora tearing up whatever tasks are thrown his way. Recruit no 23 has shown unbelievable physical and mental strength and has made it down to the last seven. Without knowing the outcome, I fully expect him to pass the course, with the final episode airing next Monday night.

 

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