"GAA pitch one of the safest places to be" - Dr. Kevin Moran

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Dr. Kevin Moran - a member of the GAA's COVID-19 advisory group - feels the pitch will be one of the safest places for players to be in the community.

Dr. Moran was speaking following the publication of the GAA's Safe Return To Gaelic Games roadmap.

Pitches will remain off-limits until June 29, with collective outdoor training permitted from July 20.

As part of the roadmap, teams will appoint a Covid Supervisor who'll be responsible for ensuring COVID-19 protocols, including collation of health questionnaires, and cleaning and sanitising of facilities are followed.

"For players following this protocol, there's very minimal risk of picking up the virus at training sessions or indeed of transmitting it", Dr. Moran said in a conference call on Friday evening.

He added, "We think, in fact, with the protocols that we've in place the GAA pitch certainly will be one of the safest places for a player to be.

"If you contrast that with going down to the local shopping centre or somewhere like that, again the GAA pitch is probably the safest place they could be."

70% accuracy to testing

Mass player testing has been eschewed in favour of health questionnaires and temperature checks.

"We did think about that [testing] very carefully", Dr Moran admitted, "We looked at the logistics".

The sheer scale of testing required in amateur sports were the roadblock, "We're going to have something in the region of half a million players returning, so we thought 'What is the safest way to proceed?'

"There is a very detailed protocol.... for players, for club administrators, for managers and that has to be followed with regard to filling out the questionnaire, having the temperatures taken and following all of the other processes that are in place.

"With regard to testing as well, the early information we have from professional soccer in the UK - from the Premier League - is that there is a very high incidence in this age group, in the young, fit under-30, under-35 age group, there's a very high incidence of false positives and false negatives.

"I think their original assessment was that there was a 70 per cent accuracy rate to this test.

"So leaving aside the logistics and that, we think that all of the protocols that are put in place minimise the risk to players picking up the virus at training."

Pitch-side sanitiser

Despite the lack of testing and the volume of paperwork left in the hands of volunteer Covid Supervisors, Dr. Moran is steadfast in his belief that player safety can be assured.

"We have studied the best medical practice - not alone for the GAA, but from the international professional sporting bodies", he said.

"The guidance seems to be the very same for all of the organisations. The safest way is to tog out at home.

"Put on a strapping at home. Travel alone. Don't enter the premises, apart from the toilet if necessary.

"Follow all of the instructions on the pitch, and then afterwards to travel home alone and shower at home.

"In the meantime, while at the pitch, to wash hands on the way in. If thought necessary, there will be a sanitiser in the carpark, at the entrance to the pitch at pitch-side, and to wash the hands at any time that it's thought necessary.

"We would not think that there's any increased risk of transmitting the virus by going home and showering at home."

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Coronavirus Covid-19 GAA Gaelic Games Kevin Moran Roadmap Safe Return To Gaelic Games

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