Thursday, April 01, 2021

Brian Fenton and Donie Smith in action during the Roscommon v Dublin NFL match in Dr. Hyde Park in 2019. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson



Roscommon’s opening NFL game against Dublin could be in doubt as a result of an alleged breach of Covid regulations by members of the All-Ireland senior football champions’ panel.

On Thursday morning, the Irish Independent photographed players from the seven-in-a-row chasing Dubs training together at Innisfails GAA club on the northside of Dublin. The group were pictured training together early on Wednesday morning in the presence of a coach. They had gathered at the venue just before 7 a.m..

The collective session, in contravention of the Government’s Level 5 restrictions and the GAA’s own rules, came less than 24 hours after the GAA contacted every club and county, warning them that such transgressions could put the return to play – pencilled in for April 19th by Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Tuesday – in “serious jeopardy”.

Roscommon’s opening game in this year’s restructured Division One NFL was scheduled against Dublin at Dr. Hyde Park, although the exact day and time have yet to be confirmed by the GAA.

Cork and Down footballers were both found to be in breach of the rules on collective training earlier this year, with Rebels manager Ronan McCarthy receiving a 12-week ban from the time of the infringement and Down boss Paddy Tally hit with an eight-week suspension.

Cork undertook a form of team training on a beach, while Down held a team meeting.

It remains to be seen what action will be taken against the most high-profile team in Gaelic football but this week’s breach of Level 5 restrictions leaves Dessie Farrell’s team facing some sort of punishment.

The GAA, in a statement, said: “It is with frustration and extreme disappointment that the GAA acknowledges reports today of a potential breach of both our own Covid guidelines and those of the Government relating to the restrictions in place around team training.

“Less than 48 hours ago, the Association reiterated its commitment to these current guidelines and called for continued compliance in the weeks ahead.

“The GAA will pursue the allegations with the units in question at the earliest opportunity and will invoke any necessary disciplinary processes as appropriate.

“In the meantime, while we acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of counties and clubs have complied in an appropriate and responsible way with the restrictions currently in place, we once again call on our members and units to uphold the integrity of the Association as part of our ongoing efforts to play our role in thwarting the virus and ensuring a return to activity when it is safe to do so.”

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