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*Brian Lohan. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

Clare GAA have come out in support of comments made by Brian Lohan on Sunday regarding close contacts while the Banner boss has confirmed he will not be withdrawing his remarks. 

In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, Clare GAA backed the remarks of Brian Lohan that two Wexford hurlers diagnosed with COVID-19 nominated two Clare players as close contacts and none of their own teammates.

Lohan said, “In one instance in particular where a substitute came on for Wexford, he named one of our players as a close contact so I find it very unusual that it would be the case”. He added, “I don’t think we have to learn anything from it, we have to follow the rules. Certainly there was a whole lot of anger amongst our set up as a result of what happened this week”.

Wexford Chairman, Michael Martin described the comments from the two-time All-Ireland winner as “outrageous” and sought a retraction. Lohan has said he stands by the comments.

Feargal McGill, the GAA’s director of player, club and games administration has said the decision to name two Clare hurlers as close contacts was made by the HSE. “Only a public health specialist can make the determination of who is a close contact. In this case, the decision would be with the local health authority”. He added, “They would be the ones to designate close contacts. It had nothing to do with Wexford”.

PRO of Clare GAA, Michael O’Connor in a statement to The Clare Echo outlined, “The HSE designated the Clare players as close contacts which is their function and was never disputed. The issue is how they were identified as close contacts. The HSE in the Mid-West region were informed by the contact tracing team in relation to the decision that was made”.

Lohan made contact with the HSE when he became aware two of his panellists were named as close contacts, the statement revealed.

O’Connor warned that the process followed could pose big ramifications for the season ahead at club and county level. “The HSE informed Brian Lohan that two players were identified on foot of discussions between the contact tracing team of the HSE and the Wexford players involved who were positive cases. The HSE did confirm that for one of the players, they were identified, not by name but were identified by the colour of their helmet. This has led to two players having to self-isolate and if this process continues without clear clarification regarding Close and Casual contact from Croke Park it will have ramifications for the season ahead for club and county games”.

Under the return to training and play guidelines for inter-county teams, different close contact scenarios include use of a gym or indoor training facility, use of dressing rooms including showers, pre and post match training meals, meetings for tactical analysis, collectively travelling to and from training or matches, overnight accommodation. “None of the above refer to on-field playing activity,” the Crusheen clubman flagged.

According to the PRO “much disappointment and frustration” remains in the county over how two Clare players were identified. “We have already made representations to Croke Park on this player welfare issue, and we will be making further representation through the GPA. To conclude, Clare GAA stand fully by the comments issued by the Clare senior hurling manager”.

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