Monaghan football manager Séamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney is adamant that it is imperative for the GAA to plow on with plans for the intercounty championships this winter.
Some are casting doubt on the feasibility of the matches, in light of the rising number of coronavirus cases in Ireland over the last month. But the Farney County’s boss feels there is huge value in running the tournaments.
“I think it is very important for the GAA family that there is an inter-county championship for a bunch of reasons,” he said.
“All the intercounty games will be on TV or streamed live. That is a social outlet for people and I think there is also a financial implication there. The TV rights are important to the running of the GAA. I think the intercounty championship from county board’s point of view, the sponsors will want an intercounty championship and that is worth between €100,000 and €200,000 for most counties. I think that is very important.
“As for the players themselves, you look at Darren [Hughes] and he has not 10 seasons left in him so he won’t want to miss one! And loads of other players like him.
“In relation to the virus, we are going to have to learn to live with it. It looks like it could still be here in 12 months’ time with us. We can’t write off all our social life, all our interests, all our GAA world for the next two years so we are going to have to live with it. My belief is and my way from September 15th is that the safest place in the world will be at Monaghan training.”
But he does admit it will not be the same without packed stadiums.
“We would love to have a championship like we knew it,” he added. “We would love to have all the fans there. Hopefully by then [October] we will maybe have a percentage.
“I would have hoped that the championship would have been run on a 30 per cent capacity. The club championship at the moment, it is disappointing that we have gone from 200 supporters to zero. I think that is a mistake on the government’s behalf.
“I am really looking forward to the intercounty championship. The best case scenario you would love to see it in a full stadium, the next best in a 30 per cent [full] stadium and the worst case scenario would be behind closed doors.”
Once intercounty action does return, Monaghan will be facing a hectic schedule. Should Banty’s charges reach the Ulster final, they’ll be playing on six consecutive weekends.
“Well first of all for me, it’s an awful ask to have to beat Cavan in the championship, never mind the rest of the Ulster Championship,” McEnaney noted.
“The schedule is intense. I really hope we have them problems, I really hope that we win our games and we have an every-week problem. Yes, we have two National League games and then we play championship straight away. I hope we have that problem.
“[I’m] really excited about the end of the National Football League but especially the championship because, at the end of the day, you’re judged on championship.
“Yes, it’s intense if you were lucky enough or good enough to beat Cavan and all that but anything’s better than where we have been these last three or four months.”
Overall, it’s been a hugely unpredictable year for McEnaney, having taken over at the start of 2020.
“It hasn’t been ideal, we were very happy with the progress we had made and felt we were really going in a great place as a group,” he said.
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