Strange days

Graphic: @MayoGAA

We’ve an extremely important League match on Sunday – one which could potentially be decisive in terms of our long-standing Division One status – but, to be honest, it’s getting increasingly hard to think about football at all. It’s hard, indeed, to concentrate on anything other than the ever-spreading coronavirus, which the WHO today finally pronounced to be a global pandemic.

Will the match go ahead on Sunday? Should it go ahead at all? Will the League be concluded this spring? Will this year’s Championship be played? So many questions, nothing in the way of answers.

There’s no point in adding to the speculation here. All we can say – for now at least – is that Sunday’s match at Pearse Stadium is set to go ahead as scheduled. The game is due to throw in at 2pm with Tyrone’s Seán Hurson (the lad with that rather odd take on the playing rules, who reffed our match against Meath last month) taking charge of it.

Many of you will, no doubt, be in two minds about whether or not to go to the game at all. A good number of you are likely to hold off until nearer the day, or indeed until the morning of the game itself, before deciding what to do. That makes sense – each of us have to decide in our own way as best we can how we respond to this unprecedented situation.

If you do decide not to go and the game is played as planned you’ll still be able to catch it live on TG4. If you’re planning to go then it’s as well to have a look over the COVID-19 advice Mayo GAA issued the other day. You’ll find that here.

Turning the focus towards the football, Galway named their team last night. Full details on that are here.

There’s been a bit of media coverage on both counties as well this week. If you’re interested in reading some or all of this, then here are the relevant links.

Feature pieces with Andy Moran on GAA.ie and Pundit Arena.

Feature pieces with Stephen Coen on GAA.ie, The 42 and Joe.ie.

Feature pieces with Galway manager Padraic Joyce on GAA.ie, Irish Examiner, Irish Times and Irish Independent.

The Mayo News also has a few articles of interest which focus on Sunday’s game, with plenty more besides, of course, in the paper itself (paper and digital variants).

Edwin McGreal lays out the various scenarios for our final two matches to see what permutations would either see us safe or consign us to the drop. That’s here.

Mike Finnerty has a piece in which he places on the agenda three pertinent talking points ahead of the Pearse Stadium showdown. You’ll find that here.

Also in this week’s paper, Ger Flanagan has a match preview featuring quotes from Barry Cullinane with whom Rob spoke on the latest episode of the Mayo News football podcast. That piece is here and, if you haven’t got to it yet, the podcast episode previewing Sunday’s game is available to listen to on SoundCloud here.

Finally, it’s worth reminding everyone again that the podcast now has its own own Twitter presence, @MayoPodcast. If you’re a Twitter user we’d appreciate it if you could follow us there to make sure you get the latest podcast-related updates, including new episodes. 

Right, that’s it – back to worrying about the non-football stuff, I guess.

56 thoughts on “Strange days

  1. 10k + people at the match, it shouldn’t go ahead. Why risk it? It can be replayed when the world is back spinning the right way on it’s axis versus what’s going on now. Bizarre days. Like Mayo football.

  2. I think most people are only thinking of one thing at the moment and it certainly isn’t football matches. I would bet that if the game were to go ahead that there will be a very small crowd there.

  3. Personally I think it should not go ahead. I think the rest of the league should be

    shelved too for the moment.

    I would guess that my age profile is a couple of decades more than the average

    subscriber here. I have a bit of forboding about things to be honest. So sport in

    my opinion should take a back seat right now.

  4. Mayo13BG – There won’t be 10k + at the match. There would have been under normal circumstances.

  5. @evergreenandred…I agree with you…It shouldn’t go ahead, … Cheltenham going ahead in my opinion is an obsinity…. Football is being played behind closed doors in France and Italy for a reason…. I’m sure that the Italians would if they could turn back the clock, the ban on large gatherings would have been done a month or six weeks sooner…. Presumably and logically it seems to me the situation in Italy might be somewhat better now, even if it’s impossible to measure how much… So it’s inexcusable if in the serious matter of Public Health if we don’t learn from the mistakes of other Nation’s!

  6. As a Galwayman that often reads the generally well informed posts on here, Well said to the OP. Football is indeed so minor to what the potential risk this is to all of us. We all have family and friends that are highly susceptible to getting gravely ill from this bloody thing.

    None of us will ever see anything like this again in our lifetimes (hopefully). I sincerely hope i’m wrong but we could go down the same road as Italy. I’ve seen some of the videos from there and it is like a war zone. Genuinely shocking stuff.

    As each day goes by, the decision to let Chletenham to go ahead looks more and more stupid. There are at least 10,000 Irish over there. It’s inconceivable that none of them will return home not carrying this virus. All for a horse racing festival/piss up. They should all be quarantined on return to the country on public health grounds. Potentially a lot of people are going to die from this.

    Football is so trivial in comparison, I was really looking forward to this fixture from the beginning of the league. Galway v Mayo is alway a special fixture. PJ has brought a bit of belief back to Galway. But this game should be postponed in my opinion.

    My belief and hope is that this is minimised as much as possible and that hopefully come the Autumn Galway v Mayo will be most important thing on our minds again. Mind yerselfs everyone.

  7. I’m in the 70+ bracket but will still be heading to Salthill on Sunday knowing that it will be a very brave and enduring virus which will hang around Pearse Stadium in the month of March. Most will be taking wind advantage, heading eastwards and not stopping this side of Lancashire at least.

  8. @ More power and good health to you AndyD. You could say the same thing about Mchale Park last Sunday Week, I was there… But Viruses by their nature have no respect for tough word’s or Atlantic Icy Winds…. Those women, who anytime I am close to the Prom in Salthill, seem to be swimming in the Atlantic, many of whom look to me to be in the 70+ bracket as well… There as fine, admirable,healthy, tough, fit human being’s are as is on this planet… And even those hardly souls (continued good health to them as well) would be several times more likely to contract this Virus by going to a mass gathering, than anything their daily dip in the Icy Atlantic ever gave them!… Now that’s what I call tough!

  9. In my opinion its very irresponsible of the GAA to let crowds gather for sports when we see whats unfolding in front of us. Andy, you are indeed a brave man but that virus could get to you and would you risk going into a hospital in a few weeks time if you were sick? Theres always next year for sports, for now though, we should all play our part in reducing the spread of this thing.

  10. At the very least the rest of the league should be played behind closed doors. I think everyone agrees that there should be no mass gatherings for the foreseeable in a bid to combat this virus. If the GAA don’t cancel or close the doors to the public, that doesn’t mean people HAVE to travel, everyone needs to think seriously about this, have a bit of cop on and NOT attend the game. Many will think they will be ok even if they do catch it, they are bringing it back home to more at rick family members. GAA grounds in general are very poor when it comes to providing welfare facilities, no soap, no hot water, no hand dryers etc. Even getting to the toilets is an ordeal where you are in close contact with several people trying to get in the door. Personally I will definitely NOT be going to this game or next week in McHale Park if it goes ahead. Its only a game of football at the end of the day, peoples health is much more important.

  11. The love of Mayo football is immense but it is unethical to put the health of thousands of supporters, team, management, officials in danger.
    Mayo supporters will find it very difficult to stay at home as following these warriors especially against Galway is engrained in us.
    The powers that be need to consider public health and make informed health and safely decisions.
    They have a duty of care to everyone

    Maigh Eo Abú

  12. Every attempt must be made to stagger the impact of Coronavirus. We must minimise loss of life by not allowing the virus to gain momentum
    Football is out for awhile and behind closed doors is no solution

  13. All of the die hard Mayo Supporters that I know are not attending this game on Sunday, it’s simply not worth it. Football is important but not more important than people’s health. I’m in my 20’s and in good health, however some of those around me at home and in the community where I live and work have conditions that this virus may not ‘agree with’. It would be very hard to live with the potential consequences if I picked up the virus at the game and spread it around at home / work. The GAA need to show leadership and set the standard by cancelling the remaining league games until further notice. In my opinion, it is reckless to have 000’s of people together in one location in this current climate. I see that Basketball Ireland have now cancelled all games and gatherings for the next few weeks, the crowds at their games would be much smaller than those at a GAA game. The time to act is now, not in 2/3 weeks when the virus is widespread.

  14. People have more chance of catching it by going to a pub,or attending Mass. Why not shut them down.

  15. The big thing about this and any other gathering, soccer, rugby, concerts, mass etc…, is that many more people already have the virus and are unwittingly spreading it. The HSE at the moment are only testing people that report symptoms but other countries like Korea who have tested huge amounts of the population by offering mass testing to the public have found large amounts of infected people who were yet to show any symptoms!!! Cheltenham no doubt will contribute to a large spike in cases here over the next week but there are probably many more infections here already so the prudent thing all sporting organisations should do is follow basketball Ireland’s lead and shut down all matches and training for the next month.

  16. Will be amazed if this goes ahead.

    I love the distraction that is football and i badly missed it on the 2 week break but there are much more important considerations here.

    I suspect it wont go ahead but if it does i certainly wont be attending, if that calls into question my commitment to the cause then i couldnt care less

  17. Play the remaining 2 league games behind closed doors and cancel all GAA after that until the virus is brought under control. How long that will take is anybody’s guess. Chances are there will be no championship this summer which will be very strange, but it’s an unprecedented situation. Whatever has to be done has to be done.

  18. I live a 3 min walk from Pearse Stadium and wont go on Sunday because it’s the wrong to go.

    If any of you have any friends living in Italy (I do) you wouldnt go near a match with thousands gathering. I spoke with a friend there yesterday who thinks cheltenham going ahead was beyond irresponsible. While the virus is unlikely to badly effect those under 50/55, those who are older can be very seriously effected. You going can pick it up and pass it to someone you know in that age category.

    The sooner it’s nailed the sooner we can get back to normality and with minimal deaths. Thankfully the news emanating from China is positive now with the numbers of new people affected dropping rapidly.

    The GAA need to make the responsible decision and suspend or cancel remaining league games.

    Hopefully championship will still go ahead or may be pushed out to a later starting date..

  19. All outdoor mass gatherings over 500 people cancelled as per an Taoiseach today so the GAA have no choice now but to call off Sundays game

  20. @ Mayonaze,

    My Aunt lives just outside Milan. All shops, bars, restaurants, libraries, schools, shopping centers etc.. are closed and only small local grocery stores are open. Only three people at a time are allowed into the grocery store and the attendant is wearing gloves & mask and they disinfect the counter and door after each customer leaves!!
    While it is tough for some people to supress their instinct of bravado in a lot of people it is right to be extra careful for the immediate future and if it turns out to be an over-reaction then we can all laugh later but if not they better safe than sorry!!!

  21. All matches have to be cancelled now, as most games would have in excess of 500 people attending or working at the game, stewards, media etc

  22. All games have to be called off now. Can’t expect 30 players to be in such close contact while sweating etc. We’ll see now do the GAA really have the players welfare in mind…..

  23. It’s the right thing to do right now and we will have plenty good days ahead when football reigns supreme again.
    Cheltenham is a very serious worry and if I was in charge I would request everyone returning from there to self isolate and have some form of tracking them.

  24. @Crete Boom: Seconded. I work in an international organisation with a lot of Italians, the word from there seems to be that the hospitals are overwhelmed and that doctors are having to make very tough decisions on who gets treated immediately and who has to wait.

    In the context of a global pandemic, it’s criminally negligent and reckless for any sporting organisation to allow fixtures in which large numbers of people will turn up.

  25. It would be unethical and wrong to expect amateurs to play a game now increasing risk for them and their families. Cancel everything. Start again post vaccine if it appears.

  26. I think the gaa should immediately cancel this years league entirely . They simply cannot have any more league games before the championship. The same teams in the same divisions next year. I won’t say the obvious from the mayo perspective. But still if I was a neutral I’d still be of the same view

  27. Anyone knows what happens with relegation in the League if games aren’t fulfilled by May.What happened in 2001 during the Foot and Mouth outbreak? Really only Meath should go down as they are the only ones mathematically relegated if games do not go ahead and only 1 team to come up from Division 2!

  28. All GAA must be called off now. We are in a very dangerous situation. It is life and death situation. How many of us are infected and don’t know it? Still working in a job with 1000 employees. Why are we not shut down for 2 weeks? If it is half as bad as Italy we are in a bad bad place. Follow all the advice out there an look out for your neighbours.

  29. Following Leo’s announcement Im sure the GAA and other sporting bodies will be making their own statements shortly confirming cancellations. If in the unlikely event that the GAA do intend to continue with fixtures then people need to have some cop on and not travel. We are all adults and need to take responsibility for our health and those close to us. The match being on doesn’t mean you have to go, in the same vein, the players are amateurs and cant be forced to play.

  30. If people declare their intention not to attend the games, the GAA would be quick enough to cancel it I’d imagine.
    I can’t see them continuing with the present schedule. i expect they will postpone the remaining league fixtures until a later date.

  31. @Diehard, spot on there re cheltenham, but i feel the damage is done. Crowd appears to be down so maybe people have copped on a bit.

    The league has to be cancelled, maybe reschedule for another time, or strike the 2020 NFL/NHL null and void. Championship is at serious risk aswell, ive heard from a reliable source that the London v Roscommon game in May will not be going ahead.

  32. RTE reporting that all GAA activity including training session’s will be suspended until 29th March. April for clubs is a non runner for sure now.

  33. What is important now is that we all act with responsibility!…I would hope now that a National Government come’s together with the defeat of this Virus as priority No1…We need all the major Parties together for a number of months…FF, FG, and Sínn Féin, Social Democrats,, Green’s… some parties don’t seem to want to work with each other…Eg ..FF and FG… and neither seem to want to work with Sínn Féin.. it’s is absolutely essential that Sínn Féin are in this temporary National Government… because they have the most support with the public….The more cohesive and more support from the public the better… Another reason is that Sinn Féin are in Government in the North. We need a cohesive Island wide approach… North of the Border we need all the Political Parties doing everything possible to get the population to act with cohesion and discipline… This Virus is No respecter of, which side your ancestors were on during the Civil War, neither if you’re a Unionist, Nationalist, Capitalist’s, Socialists, or which ever side of the County Border, or indeed State Border we happen to be on…We will defeat this , but apparently it will take the same discipline everywhere!… This will be all over hopefully in a few months… The better we all do what is necessary to do now, logically the better we collectively do this the sooner it will be over!

  34. Basketball Ireland have come out and canceled everything, I expect the GAA to do similar either today or tomorrow

    This – I assume – will include everything from matches to collective training being suspended with immediate effect

    Even if the virus started to plateau here around May for example – which would appear an extremely optimistic prediction at this stage – then the knock on effects would still delay the championship, given teams will probably not train at all in the meantime. No, I cannot see any championship going ahead this year

    Fans and indeed players sadly have much more to worry about anyway. I don’t mean to scaremonger but even taking away from the physical health issues and fatalities associated with the virus we’re looking at a period of significant losses of income, job losses, hikes in mental health issues and so on. Everyone will be affected by this.

    As for what happens with the league they’ll likely just cancel it and deem it void. I’m not saying this from a wishful thinking point of view – frankly Mayo have been comfortably in the bottom 2 for this campaign and would deserve to go down, but its just I cant really see many teams objecting to it

  35. https://www.gaa.ie/news-archive/news/gaa-camogie-association-and-the-lgfa-suspend-all-activity/

    In light of this morning’s Government announcement, the GAA, An Cumann Camógaíochta and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association have decided to suspend all activity at club, county and educational levels until March 29 (inclusive) from midnight.

    This is to include all games, training and team gatherings at all ages and all grades.

    We will continue to liaise with Government officials and review the situation between now and the end of the month, assessing the impact of these measures on our competitions.

    In the meantime, the Association is encouraging all members to continue to follow the guidelines which have been provided by the Health Authorities.

  36. i fully agree with leantimes , a national government is needed now to deal with the coronavirus. its too serious to be playing politics at this time. the gaa must play its part and call off all matches this weekend

  37. From the RTE Website…

    A statement from the GAA read: “In light of this morning’s Government announcement, the GAA, An Cumann Camógaíochta and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association have decided to suspend all activity at club, inter-county and educational levels until March 29 (inclusive) from midnight.

    “This is to include all games, training and team gatherings at all ages and all grades.

    “We will continue to liaise with Government officials and review the situation between now and the end of the month, assessing the impact of these measures on our competitions.

    “In the meantime, the Association is encouraging all members to continue to follow the guidelines which have been provided by the health authorities.”

  38. Some common sense finally. March 29th? I somehow doubt they’ll be going ahead with any this side of Easter. Needs 4 weeks minimum and then review.

    League should be null and void. GAA should be delighted if Championship starts on schedule.

  39. Mayonaze – I think the reason for March 29th as the date is simply to synchronise with the government’s guidelines today

    I think we can readily assume it will be extended longer than that

  40. League null & void.if championship goes ahead it should be straight knockout like the 70 with no backdoor or quarter finals

  41. Like the 90s even JR 😀 Back door only came in in 2001

    But I agree, if things have calmed down by summer, why not play off championship over a few weeks, straight knockout

  42. Straight knock out might leave more time for club action, everyone’s a winner!

    But I doubt it will happen, seeing as the GAA tends to choose greenbacks over common sense.

  43. League will be played out at some stage (might even be as late as next autumn), cant see it being abandoned. While it suits us and definitely Meath for it to be called off, it unfairly punishes teams in promotion positions in lower divisions, GAA will want to close it out properly. it would only take a week to play out remaining 2 fixtures and naming team on top as winners.

  44. The correct decision.

    This virus does not discriminate about who it latches on to, so the more we can avoid each other over the coming weeks the better off we will be.

    Good health to all on the blog and hoping we can all stay fit and healthy.

    No concern now, but It will be interesting to see, when the situation improves, what the decision will be as regards to how this years league will be treated.

    My personal feeling is that there should be no resumption of football until every last case of the virus has been wiped out. Not just in this country either.

    Wash the hands. Wash them well and wash them often.

  45. i have just packed up my mayo flag ,hat and jersey for the time being ,hopefully they will be taken down again in the summer .for what its worth i was really looking forward to the galway and tyrone matches which we would have definitely won to maintain our division 1 status.i do not think it would be good for us to be relegated despite what other posters think.we will take a break now but hopefully we will be back soon

  46. Be interesting to see what will be done around promotions and relegations now.

    The solution everyone will want is play the last 2 rounds at a later date but when is the question? People talking about a new knockout championship structure for this year, but that’s not feasible. If the championship can start as normal in May it will do so. Galway and Roscommon are all set for trips to NYC and London. Club championships are down for September to November so they can’t be played then either. Only option is to scrap the pre season competitions next year and play them then, running straight into the 2021 leagues.

    They cannot relegate us without finishing out the leagues so there is a real possibility the league will be null & void and we’ll stay in division 1 by default!

    Of course, this is all pretty insignificant in the current climate. Stay safe everyone!

  47. The league will be played out, first two weekends we get back, a lot of sponsorship involved etc.
    Championship will just run a little longer.
    All in all the absolute correct decision today..

  48. It might give the GAA an excuse to move the AI series back a little later to where it should be anyway!!!!

  49. I’m afraid that all the close down and postponements are a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. I do not see this virus being eliminated now that it’s so widely spread in the community as demonstrated by today’s new infection figures.

  50. @AndyD….I can’t honestly say whether you are right or not…. But my money is on this, the vast majority of people are not infected, or the very worst possible seneraio .A significant minority are not infected… Either way, or whatever is in between we as a society have to do everything possible to stop this! For everyone sake!

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